The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7




Immediately after Lincoln’s re-election to the Presidency, in an
off-hand speech, delivered in response to a serenade by some of
his admirers on the evening of November 10, 1864, he spoke as

“It has long been a grave question whether any government not too
strong for the liberties of its people can be strong enough to
maintain its existence in great emergencies. On this point, the
present rebellion brought our republic to a severe test, and the
Presidential election, occurring in regular course during the
rebellion, added not a little to the strain…. The strife of
the election is but human nature practically applied to the facts
in the case. What has occurred in this case must ever occur in
similar cases. Human nature will not change. In any future
great national trial, compared with the men of this, we shall
have as weak and as strong, as silly and as wise, as bad and as
good. Let us therefore study the incidents in this as philosophy
to learn wisdom from and none of them as wrongs to be avenged….
Now that the election is over, may not all having a common
interest reunite in a common fort to save our common country?
For my own part, I have striven and shall strive to avoid placing
any obstacle in the way. So long as I have been here, I have not
willingly planted a thorn in any man’s bosom. While I am deeply
sensible to the high compliment of a re-election and duly
grateful, as I trust, to Almighty God for having directed my
countrymen to a right conclusion, as I think for their own good,
it adds nothing to my satisfaction that any other man may be
disappointed or pained by the result.”

This speech has not attracted much general attention, yet it is
in a peculiar degree both illustrative and typical of the great
statesman who made it, alike in its strong common-sense and in
its lofty standard of morality. Lincoln’s life, Lincoln’s deeds
and words, are not only of consuming interest to the historian,
but should be intimately known to every man engaged in the hard
practical work of American political life. It is difficult to
overstate how much it means to a nation to have as the two
foremost figures in its history men like Washington and Lincoln.
It is good for every man in any way concerned in public life to
feel that the highest ambition any American can possibly have
will be gratified just in proportion as he raises himself toward
the standards set by these two men.

It is a very poor thing, whether for nations or individuals, to
advance the history of great deeds done in the past as an excuse
for doing poorly in the present; but it is an excellent thing to
study the history of the great deeds of the past, and of the
great men who did them, with an earnest desire to profit thereby
so as to render better service in the present. In their
essentials, the men of the present day are much like the men of
the past, and the live issues of the present can be faced to
better advantage by men who have in good faith studied how the
leaders of the nation faced the dead issues of the past. Such a
study of Lincoln’s life will enable us to avoid the twin gulfs of
immorality and inefficiency–the gulfs which always lie one on
each side of the careers alike of man and of nation. It helps
nothing to have avoided one if shipwreck is encountered in the
other. The fanatic, the well-meaning moralist of unbalanced
mind, the parlor critic who condemns others but has no power
himself to do good and but little power to do ill–all these were
as alien to Lincoln as the vicious and unpatriotic themselves.
His life teaches our people that they must act with wisdom,
because otherwise adherence to right will be mere sound and fury
without substance; and that they must also act high-mindedly, or
else what seems to be wisdom will in the end turn out to be the
most destructive kind of folly.

Throughout his entire life, and especially after he rose to
leadership in his party, Lincoln was stirred to his depths by the
sense of fealty to a lofty ideal; but throughout his entire life,
he also accepted human nature as it is, and worked with keen,
practical good sense to achieve results with the instruments at
hand. It is impossible to conceive of a man farther removed from
baseness, farther removed from corruption, from mere self-
seeking; but it is also impossible to conceive of a man of more
sane and healthy mind–a man less under the influence of that
fantastic and diseased morality (so fantastic and diseased as to
be in reality profoundly immoral) which makes a man in this work-
a-day world refuse to do what is possible because he cannot
accomplish the impossible.

In the fifth volume of Lecky’s History of England, the historian
draws an interesting distinction between the qualities needed for
a successful political career in modern society and those which
lead to eminence in the spheres of pure intellect or pure moral
effort. He says:

“….the moral qualities that are required in the higher spheres
of statesmanship [are not] those of a hero or a saint. Passionate
earnestness and self-devotion, complete concentration of every
faculty on an unselfish aim, uncalculating daring, a delicacy of
conscience and a loftiness of aim far exceeding those of the
average of men, are here likely to prove rather a hindrance than
an assistance. The politician deals very largely with the
superficial and the commonplace; his art is in a great measure
that of skilful compromise, and in the conditions of modern life,
the statesman is likely to succeed best who possesses secondary
qualities to an unusual degree, who is in the closest
intellectual and moral sympathy with the average of the
intelligent men of his time, and who pursues common ideals with.
mow than common ability…. Tact, business talent, knowledge of
men, resolution, promptitude and sagacity in dealing with
immediate emergencies, a character which lends itself easily to
conciliation, diminishes friction and inspires confidence, are
especially needed, and they are more likely to be found among
shrewd and enlightened men of the world than among men of great
original genius or of an heroic type of character.”

The American people should feel profoundly grateful that the
greatest American statesman since Washington, the statesman who
in this absolutely democratic republic succeeded best, was the
very man who actually combined the two sets of qualities which
the historian thus puts in antithesis. Abraham Lincoln, the
rail-splitter, the Western country lawyer, was one of the
shrewdest and most enlightened men of the world, and he had all
the practical qualities which enable such a man to guide his
countrymen; and yet he was also a genius of the heroic type, a
leader who rose level to the greatest crisis through which this
nation or any other nation had to pass in the nineteenth century.


September 22, 1905.


“I have endured,” wrote Lincoln not long before his death, “a
great deal of ridicule without much malice, and have received a
great deal of kindness not quite free from ridicule.” On Easter
Day, 1865, the world knew how little this ridicule, how much this
kindness, had really signified. Thereafter, Lincoln the man
became Lincoln the hero, year by year more heroic, until to-day,
with the swift passing of those who knew him, his figure grows
ever dimmer, less real. This should not be. For Lincoln the
man, patient, wise, set in a high resolve, is worth far more than
Lincoln the hero, vaguely glorious. Invaluable is the example of
the man, intangible that of the hero.

And, though it is not for us, as for those who in awed stillness
listened at Gettysburg with inspired perception, to know Abraham
Lincoln, yet there is for us another way whereby we may attain
such knowledge–through his words–uttered in all sincerity to
those who loved or hated him. Cold, unsatisfying they may seem,
these printed words, while we can yet speak with those who knew
him, and look into eyes that once looked into his. But in truth
it is here that we find his simple greatness, his great
simplicity, and though no man tried less so to show his power, no
man has so shown it more clearly.

Thus these writings of Abraham Lincoln are associated with those
of Washington, Hamilton, Franklin, and of the other “Founders of
the Republic,” not that Lincoln should become still more of the
past, but, rather, that he with them should become still more of
the present. However faint and mythical may grow the story of
that Great Struggle, the leader, Lincoln, at least should remain
a real, living American. No matter how clearly, how directly,
Lincoln has shown himself in his writings, we yet should not
forget those men whose minds, from their various view-points,
have illumined for us his character. As this nation owes a great
debt to Lincoln, so, also, Lincoln’s memory owes a great debt to
a nation which, as no other nation could have done, has been able
to appreciate his full worth. Among the many who have brought
about this appreciation, those only whose estimates have been
placed in these volumes may be mentioned here. To President
Roosevelt, to Mr. Schurz and to Mr. Choate, the editor, for
himself, for the publishers, and on behalf of the readers, wishes
to offer his sincere acknowledgments.

Thanks are also due, for valuable and sympathetic assistance
rendered in the preparation of this work, to Mr. Gilbert A.
Tracy, of Putnam, Conn., Major William H. Lambert, of
Philadelphia, and Mr. C. F. Gunther, of Chicago, to the Chicago
Historical Association and personally to its capable Secretary,
Miss McIlvaine, to Major Henry S. Burrage, of Portland, Me., and
to General Thomas J. Henderson, of Illinois.

For various courtesies received, the editor is furthermore
indebted to the Librarian of the Library of Congress; to Messrs.
McClure, Phillips & Co., D. Appleton & Co., Macmillan & Co.,
Dodd, Mead & Co., and Harper Brothers, of New York; to Houghton,
Mifflin & Co., Dana, Estes & Co., and L. C. Page & Co., of
Boston; to A. C. McClurg & Co., of Chicago; to The Robert Clarke
Co., of Cincinnati, and to the J. B. Lippincott Co., of

It is hardly necessary to add that every effort has been made by
the editor to bring into these volumes whatever material may
there properly belong, material much of which is widely scattered
in public libraries and in private collections. He has been
fortunate in securing certain interesting correspondence and
papers which had not before come into print in book form.
Information concerning some of these papers had reached him too
late to enable the papers to find place in their proper
chronological order in the set. Rather, however, than not to
present these papers to the readers they have been included in
the seventh volume of the set, which concludes the ” Writings.”

[These later papers are, in this etext, re-arranged into
chronologic order. D.W.]

October, 1905,

A. B. L.



No American can study the character and career of Abraham Lincoln
without being carried away by sentimental emotions. We are
always inclined to idealize that which we love,–a state of mind
very unfavorable to the exercise of sober critical judgment. It
is therefore not surprising that most of those who have written
or spoken on that extraordinary man, even while conscientiously
endeavoring to draw a lifelike portraiture of his being, and to
form a just estimate of his public conduct, should have drifted
into more or less indiscriminating eulogy, painting his great
features in the most glowing colors, and covering with tender
shadings whatever might look like a blemish.

But his standing before posterity will not be exalted by mere
praise of his virtues and abilities, nor by any concealment of
his limitations and faults. The stature of the great man, one of
whose peculiar charms consisted in his being so unlike all other
great men, will rather lose than gain by the idealization which
so easily runs into the commonplace. For it was distinctly the
weird mixture of qualities and forces in him, of the lofty with
the common, the ideal with the uncouth, of that which he had
become with that which he had not ceased to be, that made him so
fascinating a character among his fellow-men, gave him his
singular power over their minds and hearts, and fitted him to be
the greatest leader in the greatest crisis of our national life.

His was indeed a marvellous growth. The statesman or the
military hero born and reared in a log cabin is a familiar figure
in American history; but we may search in vain among our
celebrities for one whose origin and early life equalled Abraham
Lincoln’s in wretchedness. He first saw the light in a miserable
hovel in Kentucky, on a farm consisting of a few barren acres in
a dreary neighborhood; his father a typical “poor Southern
white,” shiftless and without ambition for himself or his
children, constantly looking for a new piece of land on which he
might make a living without much work; his mother, in her youth
handsome and bright, grown prematurely coarse in feature and
soured in mind by daily toil and care; the whole household
squalid, cheerless, and utterly void of elevating inspirations…
Only when the family had “moved” into the malarious backwoods of
Indiana, the mother had died, and a stepmother, a woman of thrift
and energy, had taken charge of the children, the shaggy-headed,
ragged, barefooted, forlorn boy, then seven years old, “began to
feel like a human being.” Hard work was his early lot. When a
mere boy he had to help in supporting the family, either on his
father’s clearing, or hired out to other farmers to plough, or
dig ditches, or chop wood, or drive ox teams; occasionally also
to “tend the baby,” when the farmer’s wife was otherwise engaged.
He could regard it as an advancement to a higher sphere of
activity when he obtained work in a “crossroads store,” where he
amused the customers by his talk over the counter; for he soon
distinguished himself among the backwoods folk as one who had
something to say worth listening to. To win that distinction, he
had to draw mainly upon his wits; for, while his thirst for
knowledge was great, his opportunities for satisfying that thirst
were wofully slender.

In the log schoolhouse, which he could visit but little, he was
taught only reading, writing, and elementary arithmetic. Among
the people of the settlement, bush farmers and small tradesmen,
he found none of uncommon intelligence or education; but some of
them had a few books, which he borrowed eagerly. Thus he read
and reread, AEsop’s Fables, learning to tell stories with a point
and to argue by parables; he read Robinson Crusoe, The Pilgrim’s
Progress, a short history of the United States, and Weems’s Life
of Washington. To the town constable’s he went to read the
Revised Statutes of Indiana. Every printed page that fell into
his hands he would greedily devour, and his family and friends
watched him with wonder, as the uncouth boy, after his daily
work, crouched in a corner of the log cabin or outside under a
tree, absorbed in a book while munching his supper of corn bread.
In this manner he began to gather some knowledge, and sometimes
he would astonish the girls with such startling remarks as that
the earth was moving around the sun, and not the sun around the
earth, and they marvelled where “Abe” could have got such queer
notions. Soon he also felt the impulse to write; not only making
extracts from books he wished to remember, but also composing
little essays of his own. First he sketched these with charcoal
on a wooden shovel scraped white with a drawing-knife, or on
basswood shingles. Then he transferred them to paper, which was
a scarce commodity in the Lincoln household; taking care to cut
his expressions close, so that they might not cover too much
space,–a style-forming method greatly to be commended. Seeing
boys put a burning coal on the back of a wood turtle, he was
moved to write on cruelty to animals. Seeing men intoxicated
with whiskey, he wrote on temperance. In verse-making, too, he
tried himself, and in satire on persons offensive to him or
others,–satire the rustic wit of which was not always fit for
ears polite. Also political thoughts he put upon paper, and some
of his pieces were even deemed good enough for publication in the
county weekly.

Thus he won a neighborhood reputation as a clever young man,
which he increased by his performances as a speaker, not seldom
drawing upon himself the dissatisfaction of his employers by
mounting a stump in the field, and keeping the farm hands from
their work by little speeches in a jocose and sometimes also a
serious vein. At the rude social frolics of the settlement he
became an important person, telling funny, stories, mimicking the
itinerant preachers who had happened to pass by, and making his
mark at wrestling matches, too; for at the age of seventeen he
had attained his full height, six feet four inches in his
stockings, if he had any, and a terribly muscular clodhopper he
was. But he was known never to use his extraordinary strength to
the injury or humiliation of others; rather to do them a kindly
turn, or to enforce justice and fair dealing between them. All
this made him a favorite in backwoods society, although in some
things he appeared a little odd, to his friends. Far more than
any of them, he was given not only to reading, but to fits of
abstraction, to quiet musing with himself, and also to strange
spells of melancholy, from which he often would pass in a moment
to rollicking outbursts of droll humor. But on the whole he was
one of the people among whom he lived; in appearance perhaps even
a little more uncouth than most of them,–a very tall, rawboned
youth, with large features, dark, shrivelled skin, and rebellious
hair; his arms and legs long, out of proportion; clad in deerskin
trousers, which from frequent exposure to the rain had shrunk so
as to sit tightly on his limbs, leaving several inches of bluish
shin exposed between their lower end and the heavy tan-colored
shoes; the nether garment held usually by only one suspender,
that was strung over a coarse homemade shirt; the head covered in
winter with a coonskin cap, in summer with a rough straw hat of
uncertain shape, without a band.

It is doubtful whether he felt himself much superior to his
surroundings, although he confessed to a yearning for some
knowledge of the world outside of the circle in which he lived.
This wish was gratified; but how? At the age of nineteen he went
down the Mississippi to New Orleans as a flatboat hand,
temporarily joining a trade many members of which at that time
still took pride in being called “half horse and half alligator.”
After his return he worked and lived in the old way until the
spring of 1830, when his father “moved again,” this time to
Illinois; and on the journey of fifteen days “Abe” had to drive
the ox wagon which carried the household goods. Another log
cabin was built, and then, fencing a field, Abraham Lincoln split
those historic rails which were destined to play so picturesque a
part in the Presidential campaign twenty-eight years later.

Having come of age, Lincoln left the family, and “struck out for
himself.” He had to “take jobs whenever he could get them.” The
first of these carried him again as a flatboat hand to New
Orleans. There something happened that made a lasting impression
upon his soul: he witnessed a slave auction. “His heart bled,”
wrote one of his companions; “said nothing much; was silent;
looked bad. I can say, knowing it, that it was on this trip that
he formed his opinion on slavery. It run its iron in him then
and there, May, 1831. I have heard him say so often.” Then he
lived several years at New Salem, in Illinois, a small mushroom
village, with a mill, some “stores” and whiskey shops, that rose
quickly, and soon disappeared again. It was a desolate,
disjointed, half-working and half-loitering life, without any
other aim than to gain food and shelter from day to day. He
served as pilot on a steamboat trip, then as clerk in a store and
a mill; business failing, he was adrift for some time. Being
compelled to measure his strength with the chief bully of the
neighborhood, and overcoming him, he became a noted person in
that muscular community, and won the esteem and friendship of the
ruling gang of ruffians to such a degree that, when the Black
Hawk war broke out, they elected him, a young man of twenty-
three, captain of a volunteer company, composed mainly of roughs
of their kind. He took the field, and his most noteworthy deed
of valor consisted, not in killing an Indian, but in protecting
against his own men, at the peril of his own life, the life of an
old savage who had strayed into his camp.

The Black Hawk war over, he turned to politics. The step from
the captaincy of a volunteer company to a candidacy for a seat in
the Legislature seemed a natural one. But his popularity,
although great in New Salem, had not spread far enough over the
district, and he was defeated. Then the wretched hand-to-mouth
struggle began again. He “set up in store-business” with a
dissolute partner, who drank whiskey while Lincoln was reading
books. The result was a disastrous failure and a load of debt.
Thereupon he became a deputy surveyor, and was appointed
postmaster of New Salem, the business of the post-office being so
small that he could carry the incoming and outgoing mail in his
hat. All this could not lift him from poverty, and his surveying
instruments and horse and saddle were sold by the sheriff for

But while all this misery was upon him his ambition rose to
higher aims. He walked many miles to borrow from a schoolmaster
a grammar with which to improve his language. A lawyer lent him
a copy of Blackstone, and he began to study law.

People would look wonderingly at the grotesque figure lying in
the grass, “with his feet up a tree,” or sitting on a fence, as,
absorbed in a book, he learned to construct correct sentences and
made himself a jurist. At once he gained a little practice,
pettifogging before a justice of the peace for friends, without
expecting a fee. Judicial functions, too, were thrust upon him,
but only at horse-races or wrestling matches, where his
acknowledged honesty and fairness gave his verdicts undisputed
authority. His popularity grew apace, and soon he could be a
candidate for the Legislature again. Although he called himself
a Whig, an ardent admirer of Henry Clay, his clever stump
speeches won him the election in the strongly Democratic
district. Then for the first time, perhaps, he thought seriously
of his outward appearance. So far he had been content with a
garb of “Kentucky jeans,” not seldom ragged, usually patched, and
always shabby. Now, he borrowed some money from a friend to buy
a new suit of clothes–“store clothes” fit for a Sangamon County
statesman; and thus adorned he set out for the state capital,
Vandalia, to take his seat among the lawmakers.

His legislative career, which stretched over several sessions–
for he was thrice re-elected, in 1836, 1838, and 1840–was not
remarkably brilliant. He did, indeed, not lack ambition. He
dreamed even of making himself “the De Witt Clinton of Illinois,”
and he actually distinguished himself by zealous and effective
work in those “log-rolling” operations by which the young State
received “a general system of internal improvements” in the shape
of railroads, canals, and banks,–a reckless policy, burdening
the State with debt, and producing the usual crop of political
demoralization, but a policy characteristic of the time and the
impatiently enterprising spirit of the Western people. Lincoln,
no doubt with the best intentions, but with little knowledge of
the subject, simply followed the popular current. The
achievement in which, perhaps, he gloried most was the removal of
the State government from Vandalia to Springfield; one of those
triumphs of political management which are apt to be the pride of
the small politician’s statesmanship. One thing, however, he did
in which his true nature asserted itself, and which gave distinct
promise of the future pursuit of high aims. Against an
overwhelming preponderance of sentiment in the Legislature,
followed by only one other member, he recorded his protest
against a proslavery resolution,–that protest declaring “the
institution of slavery to be founded on both injustice and bad
policy.” This was not only the irrepressible voice of his
conscience; it was true moral valor, too; for at that time, in
many parts of the West, an abolitionist was regarded as little
better than a horse-thief, and even “Abe Lincoln” would hardly
have been forgiven his antislavery principles, had he not been
known as such an “uncommon good fellow.” But here, in obedience
to the great conviction of his life, he manifested his courage to
stand alone, that courage which is the first requisite of
leadership in a great cause.

Together with his reputation and influence as a politician grew
his law practice, especially after he had removed from New Salem
to Springfield, and associated himself with a practitioner of
good standing. He had now at last won a fixed position in
society. He became a successful lawyer, less, indeed, by his
learning as a jurist than by his effectiveness as an advocate and
by the striking uprightness of his character; and it may truly be
said that his vivid sense of truth and justice had much to do
with his effectiveness as an advocate. He would refuse to act as
the attorney even of personal friends when he saw the right on
the other side. He would abandon cases, even during trial, when
the testimony convinced him that his client was in the wrong. He
would dissuade those who sought his service from pursuing an
obtainable advantage when their claims seemed to him unfair.
Presenting his very first case in the United States Circuit
Court, the only question being one of authority, he declared
that, upon careful examination, he found all the authorities on
the other side, and none on his. Persons accused of crime, when
he thought them guilty, he would not defend at all, or,
attempting their defence, he was unable to put forth his powers.
One notable exception is on record, when his personal sympathies
had been strongly aroused. But when he felt himself to be the
protector of innocence, the defender of justice, or the
prosecutor of wrong, he frequently disclosed such unexpected
resources of reasoning, such depth of feeling, and rose to such
fervor of appeal as to astonish and overwhelm his hearers, and
make him fairly irresistible. Even an ordinary law argument,
coming from him, seldom failed to produce the impression that he
was profoundly convinced of the soundness of his position. It is
not surprising that the mere appearance of so conscientious an
attorney in any case should have carried, not only to juries, but
even to judges, almost a presumption of right on his side, and
that the people began to call him, sincerely meaning it, “honest
Abe Lincoln.”

In the meantime he had private sorrows and trials of a painfully
afflicting nature. He had loved and been loved by a fair and
estimable girl, Ann Rutledge, who died in the flower of her youth
and beauty, and he mourned her loss with such intensity of grief
that his friends feared for his reason. Recovering from his
morbid depression, he bestowed what he thought a new affection
upon another lady, who refused him. And finally, moderately
prosperous in his worldly affairs, and having prospects of
political distinction before him, he paid his addresses to Mary
Todd, of Kentucky, and was accepted. But then tormenting doubts
of the genuineness of his own affection for her, of the
compatibility of their characters, and of their future happiness
came upon him. His distress was so great that he felt himself in
danger of suicide, and feared to carry a pocket-knife with him;
and he gave mortal offence to his bride by not appearing on the
appointed wedding day. Now the torturing consciousness of the
wrong he had done her grew unendurable. He won back her
affection, ended the agony by marrying her, and became a faithful
and patient husband and a good father. But it was no secret to
those who knew the family well that his domestic life was full of
trials. The erratic temper of his wife not seldom put the
gentleness of his nature to the severest tests; and these
troubles and struggles, which accompanied him through all the
vicissitudes of his life from the modest home in Springfield to
the White House at Washington, adding untold private heart-
burnings to his public cares, and sometimes precipitating upon
him incredible embarrassments in the discharge of his public
duties, form one of the most pathetic features of his career.

He continued to “ride the circuit,” read books while travelling
in his buggy, told funny stories to his fellow-lawyers in the
tavern, chatted familiarly with his neighbors around the stove in
the store and at the post-office, had his hours of melancholy
brooding as of old, and became more and more widely known and
trusted and beloved among the people of his State for his ability
as a lawyer and politician, for the uprightness of his character
and the overflowing spring of sympathetic kindness in his heart.
His main ambition was confessedly that of political distinction;
but hardly any one would at that time have seen in him the man
destined to lead the nation through the greatest crisis of the

His time had not yet come when, in 1846, he was elected to
Congress. In a clever speech in the House of Representatives he
denounced President Polk for having unjustly forced war upon
Mexico, and he amused the Committee of the Whole by a witty
attack upon General Cass. More important was the expression he
gave to his antislavery impulses by offering a bill looking to
the emancipation of the slaves in the District of Columbia, and
by his repeated votes for the famous Wilmot Proviso, intended to
exclude slavery from the Territories acquired from Mexico. But
when, at the expiration of his term, in March, 1849, he left his
seat, he gloomily despaired of ever seeing the day when the cause
nearest to his heart would be rightly grasped by the people, and
when he would be able to render any service to his country in
solving the great problem. Nor had his career as a member of
Congress in any sense been such as to gratify his ambition.
Indeed, if he ever had any belief in a great destiny for himself,
it must have been weak at that period; for he actually sought to
obtain from the new Whig President, General Taylor, the place of
Commissioner of the General Land Office; willing to bury himself
in one of the administrative bureaus of the government.
Fortunately for the country, he failed; and no less fortunately,
when, later, the territorial governorship of Oregon was offered
to him, Mrs. Lincoln’s protest induced him to decline it.
Returning to Springfield, he gave himself with renewed zest to
his law practice, acquiesced in the Compromise of 1850 with
reluctance and a mental reservation, supported in the
Presidential campaign of 1852 the Whig candidate in some
spiritless speeches, and took but a languid interest in the
politics of the day. But just then his time was drawing near.

The peace promised, and apparently inaugurated, by the Compromise
of 1850 was rudely broken by the introduction of the Kansas-
Nebraska Bill in 1854. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise,
opening the Territories of the United States, the heritage of
coming generations, to the invasion of slavery, suddenly revealed
the whole significance of the slavery question to the people of
the free States, and thrust itself into the politics of the
country as the paramount issue. Something like an electric shock
flashed through the North. Men who but a short time before had
been absorbed by their business pursuits, and deprecated all
political agitation, were startled out of their security by a
sudden alarm, and excitedly took sides. That restless trouble of
conscience about slavery, which even in times of apparent repose
had secretly disturbed the souls of Northern people, broke forth
in an utterance louder than ever. The bonds of accustomed party
allegiance gave way. Antislavery Democrats and antislavery Whigs
felt themselves drawn together by a common overpowering
sentiment, and soon they began to rally in a new organization.
The Republican party sprang into being to meet the overruling
call of the hour. Then Abraham Lincoln’s time was come. He
rapidly advanced to a position of conspicuous championship in the
struggle. This, however, was not owing to his virtues and
abilities alone. Indeed, the slavery question stirred his soul
in its profoundest depths; it was, as one of his intimate friends
said, “the only one on which he would become excited”; it called
forth all his faculties and energies. Yet there were many others
who, having long and arduously fought the antislavery battle in
the popular assembly, or in the press, or in the halls of
Congress, far surpassed him in prestige, and compared with whom
he was still an obscure and untried man. His reputation,
although highly honorable and well earned, had so far been
essentially local. As a stump-speaker in Whig canvasses outside
of his State he had attracted comparatively little attention; but
in Illinois he had been recognized as one of the foremost men of
the Whig party. Among the opponents of the Nebraska Bill he
occupied in his State so important a position, that in 1856 he
was the choice of a large majority of the “Anti-Nebraska men” in
the Legislature for a seat in the Senate of the United States
which then became vacant; and when he, an old Whig, could not
obtain the votes of the Anti-Nebraska Democrats necessary to make
a majority, he generously urged his friends to transfer their
votes to Lyman Trumbull, who was then elected. Two years later,
in the first national convention of the Republican party, the
delegation from Illinois brought him forward as a candidate for
the vice-presidency, and he received respectable support. Still,
the name of Abraham Lincoln was not widely known beyond the
boundaries of his own State. But now it was this local
prominence in Illinois that put him in a position of peculiar
advantage on the battlefield of national politics. In the
assault on the Missouri Compromise which broke down all legal
barriers to the spread of slavery Stephen Arnold Douglas was the
ostensible leader and central figure; and Douglas was a Senator
from Illinois, Lincoln’s State. Douglas’s national theatre of
action was the Senate, but in his constituency in Illinois were
the roots of his official position and power. What he did in the
Senate he had to justify before the people of Illinois, in order
to maintain himself in place; and in Illinois all eyes turned to
Lincoln as Douglas’s natural antagonist.

As very young men they had come to Illinois, Lincoln from
Indiana, Douglas from Vermont, and had grown up together in
public life, Douglas as a Democrat, Lincoln as a Whig. They had
met first in Vandalia, in 1834, when Lincoln was in the
Legislature and Douglas in the lobby; and again in 1836, both as
members of the Legislature. Douglas, a very able politician, of
the agile, combative, audacious, “pushing” sort, rose in
political distinction with remarkable rapidity. In quick
succession he became a member of the Legislature, a State’s
attorney, secretary of state, a judge on the supreme bench of
Illinois, three times a Representative in Congress, and a Senator
of the United States when only thirty-nine years old. In the
National Democratic convention of 1852 he appeared even as an
aspirant to the nomination for the Presidency, as the favorite of
“young America,” and received a respectable vote. He had far
outstripped Lincoln in what is commonly called political success
and in reputation. But it had frequently happened that in
political campaigns Lincoln felt himself impelled, or was
selected by his Whig friends, to answer Douglas’s speeches; and
thus the two were looked upon, in a large part of the State at
least, as the representative combatants of their respective
parties in the debates before popular meetings. As soon,
therefore, as, after the passage of his Kansas-Nebraska Bill,
Douglas returned to Illinois to defend his cause before his
constituents, Lincoln, obeying not only his own impulse, but also
general expectation, stepped forward as his principal opponent.
Thus the struggle about the principles involved in the Kansas-
Nebraska Bill, or, in a broader sense, the struggle between
freedom and slavery, assumed in Illinois the outward form of a
personal contest between Lincoln and Douglas; and, as it
continued and became more animated, that personal contest in
Illinois was watched with constantly increasing interest by the
whole country. When, in 1858, Douglas’s senatorial term being
about to expire, Lincoln was formally designated by the
Republican convention of Illinois as their candidate for the
Senate, to take Douglas’s place, and the two contestants agreed
to debate the questions at issue face to face in a series of
public meetings, the eyes of the whole American people were
turned eagerly to that one point: and the spectacle reminded one
of those lays of ancient times telling of two armies, in battle
array, standing still to see their two principal champions fight
out the contested cause between the lines in single combat.

Lincoln had then reached the full maturity of his powers. His
equipment as a statesman did not embrace a comprehensive
knowledge of public affairs. What he had studied he had indeed
made his own, with the eager craving and that zealous tenacity
characteristic of superior minds learning under difficulties.
But his narrow opportunities and the unsteady life he had led
during his younger years had not permitted the accumulation of
large stores in his mind. It is true, in political campaigns he
had occasionally spoken on the ostensible issues between the
Whigs and the Democrats, the tariff, internal improvements,
banks, and so on, but only in a perfunctory manner. Had he ever
given much serious thought and study to these subjects, it is
safe to assume that a mind so prolific of original conceits as
his would certainly have produced some utterance upon them worth
remembering. His soul had evidently never been deeply stirred by
such topics. But when his moral nature was aroused, his brain
developed an untiring activity until it had mastered all the
knowledge within reach. As soon as the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise had thrust the slavery question into politics as the
paramount issue, Lincoln plunged into an arduous study of all its
legal, historical, and moral aspects, and then his mind became a
complete arsenal of argument. His rich natural gifts, trained by
long and varied practice, had made him an orator of rare
persuasiveness. In his immature days, he had pleased himself for
a short period with that inflated, high-flown style which, among
the uncultivated, passes for “beautiful speaking.” His inborn
truthfulness and his artistic instinct soon overcame that
aberration and revealed to him the noble beauty and strength of
simplicity. He possessed an uncommon power of clear and compact
statement, which might have reminded those who knew the story of
his early youth of the efforts of the poor boy, when he copied
his compositions from the scraped wooden shovel, carefully to
trim his expressions in order to save paper. His language had
the energy of honest directness and he was a master of logical
lucidity. He loved to point and enliven his reasoning by
humorous illustrations, usually anecdotes of Western life, of
which he had an inexhaustible store at his command. These
anecdotes had not seldom a flavor of rustic robustness about
them, but he used them with great effect, while amusing the
audience, to give life to an abstraction, to explode an
absurdity, to clinch an argument, to drive home an admonition.
The natural kindliness of his tone, softening prejudice and
disarming partisan rancor, would often open to his reasoning a
way into minds most unwilling to receive it.

Yet his greatest power consisted in the charm of his
individuality. That charm did not, in the ordinary way, appeal
to the ear or to the eye. His voice was not melodious; rather
shrill and piercing, especially when it rose to its high treble
in moments of great animation. His figure was unhandsome, and
the action of his unwieldy limbs awkward. He commanded none of
the outward graces of oratory as they are commonly understood.
His charm was of a different kind. It flowed from the rare depth
and genuineness of his convictions and his sympathetic feelings.
Sympathy was the strongest element in his nature. One of his
biographers, who knew him before he became President, says:
“Lincoln’s compassion might be stirred deeply by an object
present, but never by an object absent and unseen. In the former
case he would most likely extend relief, with little inquiry into
the merits of the case, because, as he expressed it himself, it
`took a pain out of his own heart.'” Only half of this is
correct. It is certainly true that he could not witness any
individual distress or oppression, or any kind of suffering,
without feeling a pang of pain himself, and that by relieving as
much as he could the suffering of others he put an end to his
own. This compassionate impulse to help he felt not only for
human beings, but for every living creature. As in his boyhood
he angrily reproved the boys who tormented a wood turtle by
putting a burning coal on its back, so, we are told, he would,
when a mature man, on a journey, dismount from his buggy and wade
waist-deep in mire to rescue a pig struggling in a swamp.
Indeed, appeals to his compassion were so irresistible to him,
and he felt it so difficult to refuse anything when his refusal
could give pain, that he himself sometimes spoke of his inability
to say “no” as a positive weakness. But that certainly does not
prove that his compassionate feeling was confined to individual
cases of suffering witnessed with his own eyes. As the boy was
moved by the aspect of the tortured wood turtle to compose an
essay against cruelty to animals in general, so the aspect of
other cases of suffering and wrong wrought up his moral nature,
and set his mind to work against cruelty, injustice, and
oppression in general.

As his sympathy went forth to others, it attracted others to him.
Especially those whom he called the “plain people” felt
themselves drawn to him by the instinctive feeling that he
understood, esteemed, and appreciated them. He had grown up
among the poor, the lowly, the ignorant. He never ceased to
remember the good souls he had met among them, and the many
kindnesses they had done him. Although in his mental development
he had risen far above them, he never looked down upon them. How
they felt and how they reasoned he knew, for so he had once felt
and reasoned himself. How they could be moved he knew, for so he
had once been moved himself and practised moving others. His
mind was much larger than theirs, but it thoroughly comprehended
theirs; and while he thought much farther than they, their
thoughts were ever present to him. Nor had the visible distance
between them grown as wide as his rise in the world would seem to
have warranted. Much of his backwoods speech and manners still
clung to him. Although he had become “Mr. Lincoln” to his later
acquaintances, he was still “Abe” to the “Nats” and “Billys” and
“Daves” of his youth; and their familiarity neither appeared
unnatural to them, nor was it in the least awkward to him. He
still told and enjoyed stories similar to those he had told and
enjoyed in the Indiana settlement and at New Salem. His wants
remained as modest as they had ever been; his domestic habits had
by no means completely accommodated themselves to those of his
more highborn wife; and though the “Kentucky jeans” apparel had
long been dropped, his clothes of better material and better make
would sit ill sorted on his gigantic limbs. His cotton umbrella,
without a handle, and tied together with a coarse string to keep
it from flapping, which he carried on his circuit rides, is said
to be remembered still by some of his surviving neighbors. This
rusticity of habit was utterly free from that affected contempt
of refinement and comfort which self-made men sometimes carry
into their more affluent circumstances. To Abraham Lincoln it
was entirely natural, and all those who came into contact with
him knew it to be so. In his ways of thinking and feeling he had
become a gentleman in the highest sense, but the refining process
had polished but little the outward form. The plain people,
therefore, still considered “honest Abe Lincoln” one of
themselves; and when they felt, which they no doubt frequently
did, that his thoughts and aspirations moved in a sphere above
their own, they were all the more proud of him, without any
diminution of fellow-feeling. It was this relation of mutual
sympathy and understanding between Lincoln and the plain people
that gave him his peculiar power as a public man, and singularly
fitted him, as we shall see, for that leadership which was
preeminently required in the great crisis then coming on,–the
leadership which indeed thinks and moves ahead of the masses, but
always remains within sight and sympathetic touch of them.

He entered upon the campaign of 1858 better equipped than he had
ever been before. He not only instinctively felt, but he had
convinced himself by arduous study, that in this struggle against
the spread of slavery he had right, justice, philosophy, the
enlightened opinion of mankind, history, the Constitution, and
good policy on his side. It was observed that after he began to
discuss the slavery question his speeches were pitched in a much
loftier key than his former oratorical efforts. While he
remained fond of telling funny stories in private conversation,
they disappeared more and more from his public discourse. He
would still now and then point his argument with expressions of
inimitable quaintness, and flash out rays of kindly humor and
witty irony; but his general tone was serious, and rose sometimes
to genuine solemnity. His masterly skill in dialectical thrust
and parry, his wealth of knowledge, his power of reasoning and
elevation of sentiment, disclosed in language of rare precision,
strength, and beauty, not seldom astonished his old friends.

Neither of the two champions could have found a more formidable
antagonist than each now met in the other. Douglas was by far
the most conspicuous member of his party. His admirers had dubbed
him “the Little Giant,” contrasting in that nickname the
greatness of his mind with the smallness of his body. But though
of low stature, his broad-shouldered figure appeared uncommonly
sturdy, and there was something lion-like in the squareness of
his brow and jaw, and in the defiant shake of his long hair. His
loud and persistent advocacy of territorial expansion, in the
name of patriotism and “manifest destiny,” had given him an
enthusiastic following among the young and ardent. Great natural
parts, a highly combative temperament, and long training had made
him a debater unsurpassed in a Senate filled with able men. He
could be as forceful in his appeals to patriotic feelings as he
was fierce in denunciation and thoroughly skilled in all the
baser tricks of parliamentary pugilism. While genial and
rollicking in his social intercourse–the idol of the “boys” he
felt himself one of the most renowned statesmen of his time, and
would frequently meet his opponents with an overbearing
haughtiness, as persons more to be pitied than to be feared. In
his speech opening the campaign of 1858, he spoke of Lincoln,
whom the Republicans had dared to advance as their candidate for
“his” place in the Senate, with an air of patronizing if not
contemptuous condescension, as “a kind, amiable, and intelligent
gentleman and a good citizen.” The Little Giant would have been
pleased to pass off his antagonist as a tall dwarf. He knew
Lincoln too well, however, to indulge himself seriously in such a
delusion. But the political situation was at that moment in a
curious tangle, and Douglas could expect to derive from the
confusion great advantage over his opponent.

By the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, opening the Territories
to the ingress of slavery, Douglas had pleased the South, but
greatly alarmed the North. He had sought to conciliate Northern
sentiment by appending to his Kansas-Nebraska Bill the
declaration that its intent was “not to legislate slavery into
any State or Territory, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave
the people thereof perfectly free to form and regulate their
institutions in their own way, subject only to the Constitution
of the United States.” This he called “the great principle of
popular sovereignty.” When asked whether, under this act, the
people of a Territory, before its admission as a State, would
have the right to exclude slavery, he answered, “That is a
question for the courts to decide.” Then came the famous “Dred
Scott decision,” in which the Supreme Court held substantially
that the right to hold slaves as property existed in the
Territories by virtue of the Federal Constitution, and that this
right could not be denied by any act of a territorial government.
This, of course, denied the right of the people of any Territory
to exclude slavery while they were in a territorial condition,
and it alarmed the Northern people still more. Douglas
recognized the binding force of the decision of the Supreme
Court, at the same time maintaining, most illogically, that his
great principle of popular sovereignty remained in force
nevertheless. Meanwhile, the proslavery people of western
Missouri, the so-called “border ruffians,” had invaded Kansas,
set up a constitutional convention, made a constitution of an
extreme pro-slavery type, the “Lecompton Constitution,” refused
to submit it fairly to a vote of the people of Kansas, and then
referred it to Congress for acceptance,–seeking thus to
accomplish the admission of Kansas as a slave State. Had Douglas
supported such a scheme, he would have lost all foothold in the
North. In the name of popular sovereignty he loudly declared his
opposition to the acceptance of any constitution not sanctioned
by a formal popular vote. He “did not care,” he said, “whether
slavery be voted up or down,” but there must be a fair vote of
the people. Thus he drew upon himself the hostility of the
Buchanan administration, which was controlled by the proslavery
interest, but he saved his Northern following. More than this,
not only did his Democratic admirers now call him “the true
champion of freedom,” but even some Republicans of large
influence, prominent among them Horace Greeley, sympathizing with
Douglas in his fight against the Lecompton Constitution, and
hoping to detach him permanently from the proslavery interest and
to force a lasting breach in the Democratic party, seriously
advised the Republicans of Illinois to give up their opposition
to Douglas, and to help re-elect him to the Senate. Lincoln was
not of that opinion. He believed that great popular movements
can succeed only when guided by their faithful friends, and that
the antislavery cause could not safely be entrusted to the
keeping of one who “did not care whether slavery be voted up or
down.” This opinion prevailed in Illinois; but the influences
within the Republican party over which it prevailed yielded only
a reluctant acquiescence, if they acquiesced at all, after having
materially strengthened Douglas’s position. Such was the
situation of things when the campaign of 1858 between Lincoln and
Douglas began.

Lincoln opened the campaign on his side at the convention which
nominated him as the Republican candidate for the senatorship,
with a memorable saying which sounded like a shout from the
watchtower of history: “A house divided against itself cannot
stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half
slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved.
I do not expect the house to fall, but I expect it will cease to
be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.
Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of
it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief
that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates
will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all
the States,–old as well as new, North as well as South.” Then
he proceeded to point out that the Nebraska doctrine combined
with the Dred Scott decision worked in the direction of making
the nation “all slave.” Here was the “irrepressible conflict”
spoken of by Seward a short time later, in a speech made famous
mainly by that phrase. If there was any new discovery in it, the
right of priority was Lincoln’s. This utterance proved not only
his statesmanlike conception of the issue, but also, in his
situation as a candidate, the firmness of his moral courage. The
friends to whom he had read the draught of this speech before he
delivered it warned him anxiously that its delivery might be
fatal to his success in the election. This was shrewd advice, in
the ordinary sense. While a slaveholder could threaten disunion
with impunity, the mere suggestion that the existence of slavery
was incompatible with freedom in the Union would hazard the
political chances of any public man in the North. But Lincoln
was inflexible. “It is true,” said he, “and I will deliver it as
written…. I would rather be defeated with these expressions in
my speech held up and discussed before the people than be
victorious without them.” The statesman was right in his far-
seeing judgment and his conscientious statement of the truth, but
the practical politicians were also right in their prediction of
the immediate effect. Douglas instantly seized upon the
declaration that a house divided against itself cannot stand as
the main objective point of his attack, interpreting it as an
incitement to a “relentless sectional war,” and there is no doubt
that the persistent reiteration of this charge served to frighten
not a few timid souls.

Lincoln constantly endeavored to bring the moral and
philosophical side of the subject to the foreground. “Slavery is
wrong” was the keynote of all his speeches. To Douglas’s
glittering sophism that the right of the people of a Territory to
have slavery or not, as they might desire, was in accordance with
the principle of true popular sovereignty, he made the pointed
answer: “Then true popular sovereignty, according to Senator
Douglas, means that, when one man makes another man his slave, no
third man shall be allowed to object.” To Douglas’s argument
that the principle which demanded that the people of a Territory
should be permitted to choose whether they would have slavery or
not “originated when God made man, and placed good and evil
before him, allowing him to choose upon his own responsibility,”
Lincoln solemnly replied: “No; God–did not place good and evil
before man, telling him to make his choice. On the contrary, God
did tell him there was one tree of the fruit of which he should
not eat, upon pain of death.” He did not, however, place himself
on the most advanced ground taken by the radical anti-slavery
men. He admitted that, under the Constitution, “the Southern
people were entitled to a Congressional fugitive slave law,”
although he did not approve the fugitive slave law then existing.
He declared also that, if slavery were kept out of the
Territories during their territorial existence, as it should be,
and if then the people of any Territory, having a fair chance and
a clear field, should do such an extraordinary thing as to adopt
a slave constitution, uninfluenced by the actual presence of the
institution among them, he saw no alternative but to admit such a
Territory into the Union. He declared further that, while he
should be exceedingly glad to see slavery abolished in the
District of Columbia, he would, as a member of Congress, with his
present views, not endeavor to bring on that abolition except on
condition that emancipation be gradual, that it be approved by
the decision of a majority of voters in the District, and that
compensation be made to unwilling owners. On every available
occasion, he pronounced himself in favor of the deportation and
colonization of the blacks, of course with their consent. He
repeatedly disavowed any wish on his part to have social and
political equality established between whites and blacks. On
this point he summed up his views in a reply to Douglas’s
assertion that the Declaration of Independence, in speaking of
all men as being created equal, did not include the negroes,
saying: ” I do not understand the Declaration of Independence to
mean that all men were created equal in all respects. They are
not equal in color. But I believe that it does mean to declare
that all men are equal in some respects; they are equal in their
right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

With regard to some of these subjects Lincoln modified his
position at a later period, and it has been suggested that he
would have professed more advanced principles in his debates with
Douglas, had he not feared thereby to lose votes. This view can
hardly be sustained. Lincoln had the courage of his opinions,
but he was not a radical. The man who risked his election by
delivering, against the urgent protest of his friends, the speech
about “the house divided against itself” would not have shrunk
from the expression of more extreme views, had he really
entertained them. It is only fair to assume that he said what at
the time he really thought, and that if, subsequently, his
opinions changed, it was owing to new conceptions of good policy
and of duty brought forth by an entirely new set of circumstances
and exigencies. It is characteristic that he continued to adhere
to the impracticable colonization plan even after the
Emancipation Proclamation had already been issued.

But in this contest Lincoln proved himself not only a debater,
but also a political strategist of the first order. The “kind,
amiable, and intelligent gentleman,” as Douglas had been pleased
to call him, was by no means as harmless as a dove. He possessed
an uncommon share of that worldly shrewdness which not seldom
goes with genuine simplicity of character; and the political
experience gathered in the Legislature and in Congress, and in
many election campaigns, added to his keen intuitions, had made
him as far-sighted a judge of the probable effects of a public
man’s sayings or doings upon the popular mind, and as accurate a
calculator in estimating political chances and forecasting
results, as could be found among the party managers in Illinois.
And now he perceived keenly the ugly dilemma in which Douglas
found himself, between the Dred Scott decision, which declared
the right to hold slaves to exist in the Territories by virtue of
the Federal Constitution, and his “great principle of popular
sovereignty,” according to which the people of a Territory, if
they saw fit, were to have the right to exclude slavery
therefrom. Douglas was twisting and squirming to the best of his
ability to avoid the admission that the two were incompatible.
The question then presented itself if it would be good policy for
Lincoln to force Douglas to a clear expression of his opinion as
to whether, the Dred Scott decision notwithstanding, “the people
of a Territory could in any lawful way exclude slavery from its
limits prior to the formation of a State constitution.” Lincoln
foresaw and predicted what Douglas would answer: that slavery
could not exist in a Territory unless the people desired it and
gave it protection by territorial legislation. In an improvised
caucus the policy of pressing the interrogatory on Douglas was
discussed. Lincoln’s friends unanimously advised against it,
because the answer foreseen would sufficiently commend Douglas to
the people of Illinois to insure his re-election to the Senate.
But Lincoln persisted. “I am after larger game,” said he. “If
Douglas so answers, he can never be President, and the battle of
1860 is worth a hundred of this.” The interrogatory was pressed
upon Douglas, and Douglas did answer that, no matter what the
decision of the Supreme Court might be on the abstract question,
the people of a Territory had the lawful means to introduce or
exclude slavery by territorial legislation friendly or unfriendly
to the institution. Lincoln found it easy to show the absurdity
of the proposition that, if slavery were admitted to exist of
right in the Territories by virtue of the supreme law, the
Federal Constitution, it could be kept out or expelled by an
inferior law, one made by a territorial Legislature. Again the
judgment of the politicians, having only the nearest object in
view, proved correct: Douglas was reelected to the Senate. But
Lincoln’s judgment proved correct also: Douglas, by resorting to
the expedient of his “unfriendly legislation doctrine,” forfeited
his last chance of becoming President of the United States. He
might have hoped to win, by sufficient atonement, his pardon from
the South for his opposition to the Lecompton Constitution; but
that he taught the people of the Territories a trick by which
they could defeat what the proslavery men considered a
constitutional right, and that he called that trick lawful, this
the slave power would never forgive. The breach between the
Southern and the Northern Democracy was thenceforth irremediable
and fatal.

The Presidential election of 1860 approached. The struggle in
Kansas, and the debates in Congress which accompanied it, and
which not unfrequently provoked violent outbursts, continually
stirred the popular excitement. Within the Democratic party
raged the war of factions. The national Democratic convention
met at Charleston on the 23d of April, 1860. After a struggle of
ten days between the adherents and the opponents of Douglas,
during which the delegates from the cotton States had withdrawn,
the convention adjourned without having nominated any candidates,
to meet again in Baltimore on the 18th of June. There was no
prospect, however, of reconciling the hostile elements. It
appeared very probable that the Baltimore convention would
nominate Douglas, while the seceding Southern Democrats would set
up a candidate of their own, representing extreme proslavery

Meanwhile, the national Republican convention assembled at
Chicago on the 16th of May, full of enthusiasm and hope. The
situation was easily understood. The Democrats would have the
South. In order to succeed in the election, the Republicans had
to win, in addition to the States carried by Fremont in 1856,
those that were classed as “doubtful,”–New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
and Indiana, or Illinois in the place of either New Jersey or
Indiana. The most eminent Republican statesmen and leaders of
the time thought of for the Presidency were Seward and Chase,
both regarded as belonging to the more advanced order of
antislavery men. Of the two, Seward had the largest following,
mainly from New York, New England, and the Northwest. Cautious
politicians doubted seriously whether Seward, to whom some
phrases in his speeches had undeservedly given the reputation of
a reckless radical, would be able to command the whole Republican
vote in the doubtful States. Besides, during his long public
career he had made enemies. It was evident that those who
thought Seward’s nomination too hazardous an experiment would
consider Chase unavailable for the same reason. They would then
look round for an “available” man; and among the “available” men
Abraham Lincoln was easily discovered to stand foremost. His
great debate with Douglas had given him a national reputation.
The people of the East being eager to see the hero of so dramatic
a contest, he had been induced to visit several Eastern cities,
and had astonished and delighted large and distinguished
audiences with speeches of singular power and originality. An
address delivered by him in the Cooper Institute in New York,
before an audience containing a large number of important
persons, was then, and has ever since been, especially praised as
one of the most logical and convincing political speeches ever
made in this country. The people of the West had grown proud of
him as a distinctively Western great man, and his popularity at
home had some peculiar features which could be expected to
exercise a potent charm. Nor was Lincoln’s name as that of an
available candidate left to the chance of accidental discovery.
It is indeed not probable that he thought of himself as a
Presidential possibility, during his contest with Douglas for the
senatorship. As late as April, 1859, he had written to a friend
who had approached him on the subject that he did not think
himself fit for the Presidency. The Vice-Presidency was then the
limit of his ambition. But some of his friends in Illinois took
the matter seriously in hand, and Lincoln, after some hesitation,
then formally authorized “the use of his name.” The matter was
managed with such energy and excellent judgment that, in the
convention, he had not only the whole vote of Illinois to start
with, but won votes on all sides without offending any rival. A
large majority of the opponents of Seward went over to Abraham
Lincoln, and gave him the nomination on the third ballot. As had
been foreseen, Douglas was nominated by one wing of the
Democratic party at Baltimore, while the extreme proslavery wing
put Breckinridge into the field as its candidate. After a
campaign conducted with the energy of genuine enthusiasm on the
antislavery side the united Republicans defeated the divided
Democrats, and Lincoln was elected President by a majority of
fifty-seven votes in the electoral colleges.

The result of the election had hardly been declared when the
disunion movement in the South, long threatened and carefully
planned and prepared, broke out in the shape of open revolt, and
nearly a month before Lincoln could be inaugurated as President
of the United States seven Southern States had adopted ordinances
of secession, formed an independent confederacy, framed a
constitution for it, and elected Jefferson Davis its president,
expecting the other slaveholding States soon to join them. On
the 11th of February, 1861, Lincoln left Springfield for
Washington; having, with characteristic simplicity, asked his law
partner not to change the sign of the firm “Lincoln and Herndon ”
during the four years unavoidable absence of the senior partner,
and having taken an affectionate and touching leave of his

The situation which confronted the new President was appalling:
the larger part of the South in open rebellion, the rest of the
slaveholding States wavering preparing to follow; the revolt
guided by determined, daring, and skillful leaders; the Southern
people, apparently full of enthusiasm and military spirit,
rushing to arms, some of the forts and arsenals already in their
possession; the government of the Union, before the accession of
the new President, in the hands of men some of whom actively
sympathized with the revolt, while others were hampered by their
traditional doctrines in dealing with it, and really gave it aid
and comfort by their irresolute attitude; all the departments
full of “Southern sympathizers” and honeycombed with disloyalty;
the treasury empty, and the public credit at the lowest ebb; the
arsenals ill supplied with arms, if not emptied by treacherous
practices; the regular army of insignificant strength, dispersed
over an immense surface, and deprived of some of its best
officers by defection; the navy small and antiquated. But that
was not all. The threat of disunion had so often been resorted
to by the slave power in years gone by that most Northern people
had ceased to believe in its seriousness. But, when disunion
actually appeared as a stern reality, something like a chill
swept through the whole Northern country. A cry for union and
peace at any price rose on all sides. Democratic partisanship
reiterated this cry with vociferous vehemence, and even many
Republicans grew afraid of the victory they had just achieved at
the ballot-box, and spoke of compromise. The country fairly
resounded with the noise of “anticoercion meetings.” Expressions
of firm resolution from determined antislavery men were indeed
not wanting, but they were for a while almost drowned by a
bewildering confusion of discordant voices. Even this was not
all. Potent influences in Europe, with an ill-concealed desire
for the permanent disruption of the American Union, eagerly
espoused the cause of the Southern seceders, and the two
principal maritime powers of the Old World seemed only to be
waiting for a favorable opportunity to lend them a helping hand.

This was the state of things to be mastered by “honest Abe
Lincoln” when he took his seat in the Presidential chair,–
“honest Abe Lincoln,” who was so good-natured that he could not
say “no”; the greatest achievement in whose life had been a
debate on the slavery question; who had never been in any
position of power; who was without the slightest experience of
high executive duties, and who had only a speaking acquaintance
with the men upon whose counsel and cooperation he was to depend.
Nor was his accession to power under such circumstances greeted
with general confidence even by the members of his party. While
he had indeed won much popularity, many Republicans, especially
among those who had advocated Seward’s nomination for the
Presidency, saw the simple “Illinois lawyer” take the reins of
government with a feeling little short of dismay. The orators
and journals of the opposition were ridiculing and lampooning him
without measure. Many people actually wondered how such a man
could dare to undertake a task which, as he himself had said to
his neighbors in his parting speech, was “more difficult than
that of Washington himself had been.”

But Lincoln brought to that task, aside from other uncommon
qualities, the first requisite,–an intuitive comprehension of
its nature. While he did not indulge in the delusion that the
Union could be maintained or restored without a conflict of arms,
he could indeed not foresee all the problems he would have to
solve. He instinctively understood, however, by what means that
conflict would have to be conducted by the government of a
democracy. He knew that the impending war, whether great or
small, would not be like a foreign war, exciting a united
national enthusiasm, but a civil war, likely to fan to uncommon
heat the animosities of party even in the localities controlled
by the government; that this war would have to be carried on not
by means of a ready-made machinery, ruled by an undisputed,
absolute will, but by means to be furnished by the voluntary
action of the people:–armies to be formed by voluntary
enlistments; large sums of money to be raised by the people,
through representatives, voluntarily taxing themselves; trust of
extraordinary power to be voluntarily granted; and war measures,
not seldom restricting the rights and liberties to which the
citizen was accustomed, to be voluntarily accepted and submitted
to by the people, or at least a large majority of them; and that
this would have to be kept up not merely during a short period of
enthusiastic excitement; but possibly through weary years of
alternating success and disaster, hope and despondency. He knew
that in order to steer this government by public opinion
successfully through all the confusion created by the prejudices
and doubts and differences of sentiment distracting the popular
mind, and so to propitiate, inspire, mould, organize, unite, and
guide the popular will that it might give forth all the means
required for the performance of his great task, he would have to
take into account all the influences strongly affecting the
current of popular thought and feeling, and to direct while
appearing to obey.

This was the kind of leadership he intuitively conceived to be
needed when a free people were to be led forward en masse to
overcome a great common danger under circumstances of appalling
difficulty, the leadership which does not dash ahead with
brilliant daring, no matter who follows, but which is intent upon
rallying all the available forces, gathering in the stragglers,
closing up the column, so that the front may advance well
supported. For this leadership Abraham Lincoln was admirably
fitted, better than any other American statesman of his day; for
he understood the plain people, with all their loves and hates,
their prejudices and their noble impulses, their weaknesses and
their strength, as he understood himself, and his sympathetic
nature was apt to draw their sympathy to him.

His inaugural address foreshadowed his official course in
characteristic manner. Although yielding nothing in point of
principle, it was by no means a flaming antislavery manifesto,
such as would have pleased the more ardent Republicans. It was
rather the entreaty of a sorrowing father speaking to his wayward
children. In the kindliest language he pointed out to the
secessionists how ill advised their attempt at disunion was, and
why, for their own sakes, they should desist. Almost
plaintively, he told them that, while it was not their duty to
destroy the Union, it was his sworn duty to preserve it; that the
least he could do, under the obligations of his oath, was to
possess and hold the property of the United States; that he hoped
to do this peaceably; that he abhorred war for any purpose, and
that they would have none unless they themselves were the
aggressors. It was a masterpiece of persuasiveness, and while
Lincoln had accepted many valuable amendments suggested by
Seward, it was essentially his own. Probably Lincoln himself did
not expect his inaugural address to have any effect upon the
secessionists, for he must have known them to be resolved upon
disunion at any cost. But it was an appeal to the wavering minds
in the North, and upon them it made a profound impression. Every
candid man, however timid and halting, had to admit that the
President was bound by his oath to do his duty; that under that
oath he could do no less than he said he would do; that if the
secessionists resisted such an appeal as the President had made,
they were bent upon mischief, and that the government must be
supported against them. The partisan sympathy with the Southern
insurrection which still existed in the North did indeed not
disappear, but it diminished perceptibly under the influence of
such reasoning. Those who still resisted it did so at the risk
of appearing unpatriotic.

It must not be supposed, however, that Lincoln at once succeeded
in pleasing everybody, even among his friends,–even among those
nearest to him. In selecting his cabinet, which he did
substantially before he left Springfield for Washington, he
thought it wise to call to his assistance the strong men of his
party, especially those who had given evidence of the support
they commanded as his competitors in the Chicago convention. In
them he found at the same time representatives of the different
shades of opinion within the party, and of the different
elements–former Whigs and former Democrats–from which the party
had recruited itself. This was sound policy under the
circumstances. It might indeed have been foreseen that among the
members of a cabinet so composed, troublesome disagreements and
rivalries would break out. But it was better for the President
to have these strong and ambitious men near him as his co-
operators than to have them as his critics in Congress, where
their differences might have been composed in a common opposition
to him. As members of his cabinet he could hope to control them,
and to keep them busily employed in the service of a common
purpose, if he had the strength to do so. Whether he did possess
this strength was soon tested by a singularly rude trial.

There can be no doubt that the foremost members of his cabinet,
Seward and Chase, the most eminent Republican statesmen, had felt
themselves wronged by their party when in its national convention
it preferred to them for the Presidency a man whom, not
unnaturally, they thought greatly their inferior in ability and
experience as well as in service. The soreness of that
disappointment was intensified when they saw this Western man in
the White House, with so much of rustic manner and speech as
still clung to him, meeting his fellow-citizens, high and low, on
a footing of equality, with the simplicity of his good nature
unburdened by any conventional dignity of deportment, and dealing
with the great business of state in an easy-going, unmethodical,
and apparently somewhat irreverent way. They did not understand
such a man. Especially Seward, who, as Secretary of State,
considered himself next to the Chief Executive, and who quickly
accustomed himself to giving orders and making arrangements upon
his own motion, thought it necessary that he should rescue the
direction of public affairs from hands so unskilled, and take
full charge of them himself. At the end of the first month of
the administration he submitted a “memorandum” to President
Lincoln, which has been first brought to light by Nicolay and
Hay, and is one of their most valuable contributions to the
history of those days. In that paper Seward actually told the
President that at the end of a month’s administration the
government was still without a policy, either domestic or
foreign; that the slavery question should be eliminated from the
struggle about the Union; that the matter of the maintenance of
the forts and other possessions in the South should be decided
with that view; that explanations should be demanded
categorically from the governments of Spain and France, which
were then preparing, one for the annexation of San Domingo, and
both for the invasion of Mexico; that if no satisfactory
explanations were received war should be declared against Spain
and France by the United States; that explanations should also be
sought from Russia and Great Britain, and a vigorous continental
spirit of independence against European intervention be aroused
all over the American continent; that this policy should be
incessantly pursued and directed by somebody; that either the
President should devote himself entirely to it, or devolve the
direction on some member of his cabinet, whereupon all debate on
this policy must end.

This could be understood only as a formal demand that the
President should acknowledge his own incompetency to perform his
duties, content himself with the amusement of distributing post-
offices, and resign his power as to all important affairs into
the hands of his Secretary of State. It seems to-day
incomprehensible how a statesman of Seward’s calibre could at
that period conceive a plan of policy in which the slavery
question had no place; a policy which rested upon the utterly
delusive assumption that the secessionists, who had already
formed their Southern Confederacy and were with stern resolution
preparing to fight for its independence, could be hoodwinked back
into the Union by some sentimental demonstration against European
interference; a policy which, at that critical moment, would have
involved the Union in a foreign war, thus inviting foreign
intervention in favor of the Southern Confederacy, and increasing
tenfold its chances in the struggle for independence. But it is
equally incomprehensible how Seward could fail to see that this
demand of an unconditional surrender was a mortal insult to the
head of the government, and that by putting his proposition on
paper he delivered himself into the hands of the very man he had
insulted; for, had Lincoln, as most Presidents would have done,
instantly dismissed Seward, and published the true reason for
that dismissal, it would inevitably have been the end of Seward’s
career. But Lincoln did what not many of the noblest and
greatest men in history would have been noble and great enough to
do. He considered that Seward was still capable of rendering
great service to his country in the place in which he was, if
rightly controlled. He ignored the insult, but firmly
established his superiority. In his reply, which he forthwith
despatched, he told Seward that the administration had a domestic
policy as laid down in the inaugural address with Seward’s
approval; that it had a foreign policy as traced in Seward’s
despatches with the President’s approval; that if any policy was
to be maintained or changed, he, the President, was to direct
that on his responsibility; and that in performing that duty the
President had a right to the advice of his secretaries. Seward’s
fantastic schemes of foreign war and continental policies Lincoln
brushed aside by passing them over in silence. Nothing more was
said. Seward must have felt that he was at the mercy of a
superior man; that his offensive proposition had been generously
pardoned as a temporary aberration of a great mind, and that he
could atone for it only by devoted personal loyalty. This he
did. He was thoroughly subdued, and thenceforth submitted to
Lincoln his despatches for revision and amendment without a
murmur. The war with European nations was no longer thought of;
the slavery question found in due time its proper place in the
struggle for the Union; and when, at a later period, the
dismissal of Seward was demanded by dissatisfied senators, who
attributed to him the shortcomings of the administration, Lincoln
stood stoutly by his faithful Secretary of State.

Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury, a man of superb presence,
of eminent ability and ardent patriotism, of great natural
dignity and a certain outward coldness of manner, which made him
appear more difficult of approach than he really was, did not
permit his disappointment to burst out in such extravagant
demonstrations. But Lincoln’s ways were so essentially different
from his that they never became quite intelligible, and certainly
not congenial to him. It might, perhaps, have been better had
there been, at the beginning of the administration, some decided
clash between Lincoln and Chase, as there was between Lincoln and
Seward, to bring on a full mutual explanation, and to make Chase
appreciate the real seriousness of Lincoln’s nature. But, as it
was, their relations always remained somewhat formal, and Chase
never felt quite at ease under a chief whom he could not
understand, and whose character and powers he never learned to
esteem at their true value. At the same time, he devoted himself
zealously to the duties of his department, and did the country
arduous service under circumstances of extreme difficulty.
Nobody recognized this more heartily than Lincoln himself, and
they managed to work together until near the end of Lincoln’s
first Presidential term, when Chase, after some disagreements
concerning appointments to office, resigned from the treasury;
and, after Taney’s death, the President made him Chief Justice.

The rest of the cabinet consisted of men of less eminence, who
subordinated themselves more easily. In January, 1862, Lincoln
found it necessary to bow Cameron out of the war office, and to
put in his place Edwin M. Stanton, a man of intensely practical
mind, vehement impulses, fierce positiveness, ruthless energy,
immense working power, lofty patriotism, and severest devotion to
duty. He accepted the war office not as a partisan, for he had
never been a Republican, but only to do all he could in “helping
to save the country.” The manner in which Lincoln succeeded in
taming this lion to his will, by frankly recognizing his great
qualities, by giving him the most generous confidence, by aiding
him in his work to the full of his power, by kindly concession or
affectionate persuasiveness in cases of differing opinions, or,
when it was necessary, by firm assertions of superior authority,
bears the highest testimony to his skill in the management of
men. Stanton, who had entered the service with rather a mean
opinion of Lincoln’s character and capacity, became one of his
warmest, most devoted, and most admiring friends, and with none
of his secretaries was Lincoln’s intercourse more intimate. To
take advice with candid readiness, and to weigh it without any
pride of his own opinion, was one of Lincoln’s preeminent
virtues; but he had not long presided over his cabinet council
when his was felt by all its members to be the ruling mind.

The cautious policy foreshadowed in his inaugural address, and
pursued during the first period of the civil war, was far from
satisfying all his party friends. The ardent spirits among the
Union men thought that the whole North should at once be called
to arms, to crush the rebellion by one powerful blow. The ardent
spirits among the antislavery men insisted that, slavery having
brought forth the rebellion, this powerful blow should at once be
aimed at slavery. Both complained that the administration was
spiritless, undecided, and lamentably slow in its proceedings.
Lincoln reasoned otherwise. The ways of thinking and feeling of
the masses, of the plain people, were constantly present to his
mind. The masses, the plain people, had to furnish the men for
the fighting, if fighting was to be done. He believed that the
plain people would be ready to fight when it clearly appeared
necessary, and that they would feel that necessity when they felt
themselves attacked. He therefore waited until the enemies of
the Union struck the first blow. As soon as, on the 12th of
April, 1861, the first gun was fired in Charleston harbor on the
Union flag upon Fort Sumter, the call was sounded, and the
Northern people rushed to arms.

Lincoln knew that the plain people were now indeed ready to fight
in defence of the Union, but not yet ready to fight for the
destruction of slavery. He declared openly that he had a right
to summon the people to fight for the Union, but not to summon
them to fight for the abolition of slavery as a primary object;
and this declaration gave him numberless soldiers for the Union
who at that period would have hesitated to do battle against the
institution of slavery. For a time he succeeded in rendering
harmless the cry of the partisan opposition that the Republican
administration were perverting the war for the Union into an
“abolition war.” But when he went so far as to countermand the
acts of some generals in the field, looking to the emancipation
of the slaves in the districts covered by their commands, loud
complaints arose from earnest antislavery men, who accused the
President of turning his back upon the antislavery cause. Many
of these antislavery men will now, after a calm retrospect, be
willing to admit that it would have been a hazardous policy to
endanger, by precipitating a demonstrative fight against slavery,
the success of the struggle for the Union.

Lincoln’s views and feelings concerning slavery had not changed.
Those who conversed with him intimately upon the subject at that
period know that he did not expect slavery long to survive the
triumph of the Union, even if it were not immediately destroyed
by the war. In this he was right. Had the Union armies achieved
a decisive victory in an early period of the conflict, and had
the seceded States been received back with slavery, the “slave
power” would then have been a defeated power, defeated in an
attempt to carry out its most effective threat. It would have
lost its prestige. Its menaces would have been hollow sound, and
ceased to make any one afraid. It could no longer have hoped to
expand, to maintain an equilibrium in any branch of Congress, and
to control the government. The victorious free States would have
largely overbalanced it. It would no longer have been able to
withstand the onset of a hostile age. It could no longer have
ruled,–and slavery had to rule in order to live. It would have
lingered for a while, but it would surely have been “in the
course of ultimate extinction.” A prolonged war precipitated the
destruction of slavery; a short war might only have prolonged its
death struggle. Lincoln saw this clearly; but he saw also that,
in a protracted death struggle, it might still have kept disloyal
sentiments alive, bred distracting commotions, and caused great
mischief to the country. He therefore hoped that slavery would
not survive the war.

But the question how he could rightfully employ his power to
bring on its speedy destruction was to him not a question of mere
sentiment. He himself set forth his reasoning upon it, at a
later period, in one of his inimitable letters. “I am naturally
antislavery,” said he. “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is
wrong. I cannot remember the time when I did not so think and
feel. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency
conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act upon that judgment
and feeling. It was in the oath I took that I would, to the best
of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of
the United States. I could not take the office without taking
the oath. Nor was it my view that I might take an oath to get
power, and break the oath in using that power. I understood,
too, that, in ordinary civil administration, this oath even
forbade me practically to indulge my private abstract judgment on
the moral question of slavery. I did understand, however, also,
that my oath imposed upon me the duty of preserving, to the best
of my ability, by every indispensable means, that government,
that nation, of which the Constitution was the organic law. I
could not feel that, to the best of my ability, I had even tied
to preserve the Constitution–if, to save slavery, or any minor
matter, I should permit the wreck of government, country, and
Constitution all together.” In other words, if the salvation of
the government, the Constitution, and the Union demanded the
destruction of slavery, he felt it to be not only his right, but
his sworn duty to destroy it. Its destruction became a necessity
of the war for the Union.

As the war dragged on and disaster followed disaster, the sense
of that necessity steadily grew upon him. Early in 1862, as some
of his friends well remember, he saw, what Seward seemed not to
see, that to give the war for the Union an antislavery character
was the surest means to prevent the recognition of the Southern
Confederacy as an independent nation by European powers; that,
slavery being abhorred by the moral sense of civilized mankind,
no European government would dare to offer so gross an insult to
the public opinion of its people as openly to favor the creation
of a state founded upon slavery to the prejudice of an existing
nation fighting against slavery. He saw also that slavery
untouched was to the rebellion an element of power, and that in
order to overcome that power it was necessary to turn it into an
element of weakness. Still, he felt no assurance that the plain
people were prepared for so radical a measure as the emancipation
of the slaves by act of the government, and he anxiously
considered that, if they were not, this great step might, by
exciting dissension at the North, injure the cause of the Union
in one quarter more than it would help it in another. He
heartily welcomed an effort made in New York to mould and
stimulate public sentiment on the slavery question by public
meetings boldly pronouncing for emancipation. At the same time
he himself cautiously advanced with a recommendation, expressed
in a special message to Congress, that the United States should
co-operate with any State which might adopt the gradual
abolishment of slavery, giving such State pecuniary aid to
compensate the former owners of emancipated slaves. The
discussion was started, and spread rapidly. Congress adopted the
resolution recommended, and soon went a step farther in passing a
bill to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia. The plain
people began to look at emancipation on a larger scale as a thing
to be considered seriously by patriotic citizens; and soon
Lincoln thought that the time was ripe, and that the edict of
freedom could be ventured upon without danger of serious
confusion in the Union ranks.

The failure of McClellan’s movement upon Richmond increased
immensely the prestige of the enemy. The need of some great act
to stimulate the vitality of the Union cause seemed to grow daily
more pressing. On July 21, 1862, Lincoln surprised his cabinet
with the draught of a proclamation declaring free the slaves in
all the States that should be still in rebellion against the
United States on the 1st of January,1863. As to the matter
itself he announced that he had fully made up his mind; he
invited advice only concerning the form and the time of
publication. Seward suggested that the proclamation, if then
brought out, amidst disaster and distress, would sound like the
last shriek of a perishing cause. Lincoln accepted the
suggestion, and the proclamation was postponed. Another defeat
followed, the second at Bull Run. But when, after that battle,
the Confederate army, under Lee, crossed the Potomac and invaded
Maryland, Lincoln vowed in his heart that, if the Union army were
now blessed with success, the decree of freedom should surely be
issued. The victory of Antietam was won on September 17, and the
preliminary Emancipation Proclamation came forth on the a 22d.
It was Lincoln’s own resolution and act; but practically it bound
the nation, and permitted no step backward. In spite of its
limitations, it was the actual abolition of slavery. Thus he
wrote his name upon the books of history with the title dearest
to his heart, the liberator of the slave.

It is true, the great proclamation, which stamped the war as one
for “union and freedom,” did not at once mark the turning of the
tide on the field of military operations. There were more
disasters, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. But with
Gettysburg and Vicksburg the whole aspect of the war changed.
Step by step, now more slowly, then more rapidly, but with
increasing steadiness, the flag of the Union advanced from field
to field toward the final consummation. The decree of
emancipation was naturally followed by the enlistment of
emancipated negroes in the Union armies. This measure had a
anther reaching effect than merely giving the Union armies an
increased supply of men. The laboring force of the rebellion was
hopelessly disorganized. The war became like a problem of
arithmetic. As the Union armies pushed forward, the area from
which the Southern Confederacy could draw recruits and supplies
constantly grew smaller, while the area from which the Union
recruited its strength constantly grew larger; and everywhere,
even within the Southern lines, the Union had its allies. The
fate of the rebellion was then virtually decided; but it still
required much bloody work to convince the brave warriors who
fought for it that they were really beaten.

Neither did the Emancipation Proclamation forthwith command
universal assent among the people who were loyal to the Union.
There were even signs of a reaction against the administration in
the fall elections of 1862, seemingly justifying the opinion,
entertained by many, that the President had really anticipated
the development of popular feeling. The cry that the war for the
Union had been turned into an “abolition war” was raised again by
the opposition, and more loudly than ever. But the good sense
and patriotic instincts of the plain people gradually marshalled
themselves on Lincoln’s side, and he lost no opportunity to help
on this process by personal argument and admonition. There never
has been a President in such constant and active contact with the
public opinion of the country, as there never has been a
President who, while at the head of the government, remained so
near to the people. Beyond the circle of those who had long
known him the feeling steadily grew that the man in the White
House was “honest Abe Lincoln” still, and that every citizen
might approach him with complaint, expostulation, or advice,
without danger of meeting a rebuff from power-proud authority, or
humiliating condescension; and this privilege was used by so many
and with such unsparing freedom that only superhuman patience
could have endured it all. There are men now living who would
to-day read with amazement, if not regret, what they ventured to
say or write to him. But Lincoln repelled no one whom he
believed to speak to him in good faith and with patriotic
purpose. No good advice would go unheeded. No candid criticism
would offend him. No honest opposition, while it might pain him,
would produce a lasting alienation of feeling between him and the
opponent. It may truly be said that few men in power have ever
been exposed to more daring attempts to direct their course, to
severer censure of their acts, and to more cruel
misrepresentation of their motives: And all this he met with that
good-natured humor peculiarly his own, and with untiring effort
to see the right and to impress it upon those who differed from
him. The conversations he had and the correspondence he carried
on upon matters of public interest, not only with men in official
position, but with private citizens, were almost unceasing, and
in a large number of public letters, written ostensibly to
meetings, or committees, or persons of importance, he addressed
himself directly to the popular mind. Most of these letters
stand among the finest monuments of our political literature.
Thus he presented the singular spectacle of a President who, in
the midst of a great civil war, with unprecedented duties
weighing upon him, was constantly in person debating the great
features of his policy with the people.

While in this manner he exercised an ever-increasing influence
upon the popular understanding, his sympathetic nature endeared
him more and more to the popular heart. In vain did journals and
speakers of the opposition represent him as a lightminded
trifler, who amused himself with frivolous story-telling and
coarse jokes, while the blood of the people was flowing in
streams. The people knew that the man at the head of affairs, on
whose haggard face the twinkle of humor so frequently changed
into an expression of profoundest sadness, was more than any
other deeply distressed by the suffering he witnessed; that he
felt the pain of every wound that was inflicted on the
battlefield, and the anguish of every woman or child who had lost
husband or father; that whenever he could he was eager to
alleviate sorrow, and that his mercy was never implored in vain.
They looked to him as one who was with them and of them in all
their hopes and fears, their joys and sorrows, who laughed with
them and wept with them; and as his heart was theirs; so their
hearts turned to him. His popularity was far different from that
of Washington, who was revered with awe, or that of Jackson, the
unconquerable hero, for whom party enthusiasm never grew weary of
shouting. To Abraham Lincoln the people became bound by a
genuine sentimental attachment. It was not a matter of respect,
or confidence, or party pride, for this feeling spread far beyond
the boundary lines of his party; it was an affair of the heart,
independent of mere reasoning. When the soldiers in the field or
their folks at home spoke of “Father Abraham,” there was no cant
in it. They felt that their President was really caring for them
as a father would, and that they could go to him, every one of
them, as they would go to a father, and talk to him of what
troubled them, sure to find a willing ear and tender sympathy.
Thus, their President, and his cause, and his endeavors, and his
success gradually became to them almost matters of family
concern. And this popularity carried him triumphantly through
the Presidential election of 1864, in spite of an opposition
within his own party which at first seemed very formidable.

Many of the radical antislavery men were never quite satisfied
with Lincoln’s ways of meeting the problems of the time. They
were very earnest and mostly very able men, who had positive
ideas as to “how this rebellion should be put down.” They would
not recognize the necessity of measuring the steps of the
government according to the progress of opinion among the plain
people. They criticised Lincoln’s cautious management as
irresolute, halting, lacking in definite purpose and in energy;
he should not have delayed emancipation so long; he should not
have confided important commands to men of doubtful views as to
slavery; he should have authorized military commanders to set the
slaves free as they went on; he dealt too leniently with
unsuccessful generals; he should have put down all factious
opposition with a strong hand instead of trying to pacify it; he
should have given the people accomplished facts instead of
arguing with them, and so on. It is true, these criticisms were
not always entirely unfounded. Lincoln’s policy had, with the
virtues of democratic government, some of its weaknesses, which
in the presence of pressing exigencies were apt to deprive
governmental action of the necessary vigor; and his kindness of
heart, his disposition always to respect the feelings of others,
frequently made him recoil from anything like severity, even when
severity was urgently called for. But many of his radical
critics have since then revised their judgment sufficiently to
admit that Lincoln’s policy was, on the whole, the wisest and
safest; that a policy of heroic methods, while it has sometimes
accomplished great results, could in a democracy like ours be
maintained only by constant success; that it would have quickly
broken down under the weight of disaster; that it might have been
successful from the start, had the Union, at the beginning of the
conflict, had its Grants and Shermans and Sheridans, its
Farraguts and Porters, fully matured at the head of its forces;
but that, as the great commanders had to be evolved slowly from
the developments of the war, constant success could not be
counted upon, and it was best to follow a policy which was in
friendly contact with the popular force, and therefore more fit
to stand trial of misfortune on the battlefield. But at that
period they thought differently, and their dissatisfaction with
Lincoln’s doings was greatly increased by the steps he took
toward the reconstruction of rebel States then partially in
possession of the Union forces.

In December, 1863, Lincoln issued an amnesty proclamation,
offering pardon to all implicated in the rebellion, with certain
specified exceptions, on condition of their taking and
maintaining an oath to support the Constitution and obey the laws
of the United States and the proclamations of the President with
regard to slaves; and also promising that when, in any of the
rebel States, a number of citizens equal to one tenth of the
voters in 1860 should re-establish a state government in
conformity with the oath above mentioned, such should be
recognized by the Executive as the true government of the State.
The proclamation seemed at first to be received with general
favor. But soon another scheme of reconstruction, much more
stringent in its provisions, was put forward in the House of
Representatives by Henry Winter Davis. Benjamin Wade championed
it in the Senate. It passed in the closing moments of the
session in July, 1864, and Lincoln, instead of making it a law by
his signature, embodied the text of it in a proclamation as a
plan of reconstruction worthy of being earnestly considered. The
differences of opinion concerning this subject had only
intensified the feeling against Lincoln which had long been
nursed among the radicals, and some of them openly declared their
purpose of resisting his re-election to the Presidency. Similar
sentiments were manifested by the advanced antislavery men of
Missouri, who, in their hot faction-fight with the
“conservatives” of that State, had not received from Lincoln the
active support they demanded. Still another class of Union men,
mainly in the East, gravely shook their heads when considering
the question whether Lincoln should be re-elected. They were
those who cherished in their minds an ideal of statesmanship and
of personal bearing in high office with which, in their opinion,
Lincoln’s individuality was much out of accord. They were
shocked when they heard him cap an argument upon grave affairs of
state with a story about “a man out in Sangamon County,”–a
story, to be sure, strikingly clinching his point, but sadly
lacking in dignity. They could not understand the man who was
capable, in opening a cabinet meeting, of reading to his
secretaries a funny chapter from a recent book of Artemus Ward,
with which in an unoccupied moment he had relieved his care-
burdened mind, and who then solemnly informed the executive
council that he had vowed in his heart to issue a proclamation
emancipating the slaves as soon as God blessed the Union arms
with another victory. They were alarmed at the weakness of a
President who would indeed resist the urgent remonstrances of
statesmen against his policy, but could not resist the prayer of
an old woman for the pardon of a soldier who was sentenced to be
shot for desertion. Such men, mostly sincere and ardent
patriots, not only wished, but earnestly set to work, to prevent
Lincoln’s renomination. Not a few of them actually believed, in
1863, that, if the national convention of the Union party were
held then, Lincoln would not be supported by the delegation of a
single State. But when the convention met at Baltimore, in June,
1864, the voice of the people was heard. On the first ballot
Lincoln received the votes of the delegations from all the States
except Missouri; and even the Missourians turned over their votes
to him before the result of the ballot was declared.

But even after his renomination the opposition to Lincoln within
the ranks of the Union party did not subside. A convention,
called by the dissatisfied radicals in Missouri, and favored by
men of a similar way of thinking in other States, had been held
already in May, and had nominated as its candidate for the
Presidency General Fremont. He, indeed, did not attract a strong
following, but opposition movements from different quarters
appeared more formidable. Henry Winter Davis and Benjamin Wade
assailed Lincoln in a flaming manifesto. Other Union men, of
undoubted patriotism and high standing, persuaded themselves, and
sought to persuade the people, that Lincoln’s renomination was
ill advised and dangerous to the Union cause. As the Democrats
had put off their convention until the 29th of August, the Union
party had, during the larger part of the summer, no opposing
candidate and platform to attack, and the political campaign
languished. Neither were the tidings from the theatre of war of
a cheering character. The terrible losses suffered by Grant’s
army in the battles of the Wilderness spread general gloom.
Sherman seemed for a while to be in a precarious position before
Atlanta. The opposition to Lincoln within the Union party grew
louder in its complaints and discouraging predictions. Earnest
demands were heard that his candidacy should be withdrawn.
Lincoln himself, not knowing how strongly the masses were
attached to him, was haunted by dark forebodings of defeat. Then
the scene suddenly changed as if by magic.

The Democrats, in their national convention, declared the war a
failure, demanded, substantially, peace at any price, and
nominated on such a platform General McClellan as their
candidate. Their convention had hardly adjourned when the
capture of Atlanta gave a new aspect to the military situation.
It was like a sun-ray bursting through a dark cloud. The rank
and file of the Union party rose with rapidly growing enthusiasm.
The song “We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand
strong,” resounded all over the land. Long before the decisive
day arrived, the result was beyond doubt, and Lincoln was re-
elected President by overwhelming majorities. The election over
even his severest critics found themselves forced to admit that
Lincoln was the only possible candidate for the Union party in
1864, and that neither political combinations nor campaign
speeches, nor even victories in the field, were needed to insure
his success. The plain people had all the while been satisfied
with Abraham Lincoln: they confided in him; they loved him; they
felt themselves near to him; they saw personified in him the
cause of Union and freedom; and they went to the ballot-box for
him in their strength.

The hour of triumph called out the characteristic impulses of his
nature. The opposition within the Union party had stung him to
the quick. Now he had his opponents before him, baffled and
humiliated. Not a moment did he lose to stretch out the hand of
friendship to all. ” Now that the election is over,” he said, in
response to a serenade, “may not all, having a common interest,
reunite in a common effort to save our common country? For my own
part, I have striven, and will strive, to place no obstacle in
the way. So long as I have been here I have not willingly
planted a thorn in any man’s bosom. While I am deeply sensible
to the high compliment of a re-election, it adds nothing to my
satisfaction that any other man may be pained or disappointed by
the result. May I ask those who were with me to join with me in
the same spirit toward those who were against me?” This was
Abraham Lincoln’s character as tested in the furnace of

The war was virtually decided, but not yet ended. Sherman was
irresistibly carrying the Union flag through the South. Grant
had his iron hand upon the ramparts of Richmond. The days of the
Confederacy were evidently numbered. Only the last blow remained
to be struck. Then Lincoln’s second inauguration came, and with
it his second inaugural address. Lincoln’s famous “Gettysburg
speech ” has been much and justly admired. But far greater, as
well as far more characteristic, was that inaugural in which he
poured out the whole devotion and tenderness of his great soul.
It had all the solemnity of a father’s last admonition and
blessing to his children before he lay down to die. These were
its closing words: “Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that
this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God
wills that it continue until all the wealth piled up by the
bondman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be
sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be
paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand
years ago, so still it must be said, `The judgments of the Lord
are true and righteous altogether.’ With malice toward none,
with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us
to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in; to
bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne
the battle, and for his widow and his orphan; to do all which may
achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and
with all nations.”

This was like a sacred poem. No American President had ever
spoken words like these to the American people. America never
had a President who found such words in the depth of his heart.

Now followed the closing scenes of the war. The Southern armies
fought bravely to the last, but all in vain. Richmond fell.
Lincoln himself entered the city on foot, accompanied only by a
few officers and a squad of sailors who had rowed him ashore from
the flotilla in the James River, a negro picked up on the way
serving as a guide. Never had the world seen a more modest
conqueror and a more characteristic triumphal procession, no army
with banners and drums, only a throng of those who had been
slaves, hastily run together, escorting the victorious chief into
the capital of the vanquished foe. We are told that they pressed
around him, kissed his hands and his garments, and shouted and
danced for joy, while tears ran down the President’s care-
furrowed cheeks.

A few days more brought the surrender of Lee’s army, and peace
was assured. The people of the North were wild with joy.
Everywhere festive guns were booming, bells pealing, the churches
ringing with thanksgivings, and jubilant multitudes thronging the
thoroughfares, when suddenly the news flashed over the land that
Abraham Lincoln had been murdered. The people were stunned by
the blow. Then a wail of sorrow went up such as America had
never heard before. Thousands of Northern households grieved as
if they had lost their dearest member. Many a Southern man cried
out in his heart that his people had been robbed of their best
friend in their humiliation and distress, when Abraham Lincoln
was struck down. It was as if the tender affection which his
countrymen bore him had inspired all nations with a common
sentiment. All civilized mankind stood mourning around the
coffin of the dead President. Many of those, here and abroad,
who not long before had ridiculed and reviled him were among the
first to hasten on with their flowers of eulogy, and in that
universal chorus of lamentation and praise there was not a voice
that did not tremble with genuine emotion. Never since
Washington’s death had there been such unanimity of judgment as
to a man’s virtues and greatness; and even Washington’s death,
although his name was held in greater reverence, did not touch so
sympathetic a chord in the people’s hearts.

Nor can it be said that this was owing to the tragic character of
Lincoln’s end. It is true, the death of this gentlest and most
merciful of rulers by the hand of a mad fanatic was well apt to
exalt him beyond his merits in the estimation of those who loved
him, and to make his renown the object of peculiarly tender
solicitude. But it is also true that the verdict pronounced upon
him in those days has been affected little by time, and that
historical inquiry has served rather to increase than to lessen
the appreciation of his virtues, his abilities, his services.
Giving the fullest measure of credit to his great ministers,–to
Seward for his conduct of foreign affairs, to Chase for the
management of the finances under terrible difficulties, to
Stanton for the performance of his tremendous task as war
secretary,–and readily acknowledging that without the skill and
fortitude of the great commanders, and the heroism of the
soldiers and sailors under them, success could not have been
achieved, the historian still finds that Lincoln’s judgment and
will were by no means governed by those around him; that the most
important steps were owing to his initiative; that his was the
deciding and directing mind; and that it was pre-eminently he
whose sagacity and whose character enlisted for the
administration in its struggles the countenance, the sympathy,
and the support of the people. It is found, even, that his
judgment on military matters was astonishingly acute, and that
the advice and instructions he gave to the generals commanding in
the field would not seldom have done honor to the ablest of them.
History, therefore, without overlooking, or palliating, or
excusing any of his shortcomings or mistakes, continues to place
him foremost among the saviours of the Union and the liberators
of the slave. More than that, it awards to him the merit of
having accomplished what but few political philosophers would
have recognized as possible,–of leading the republic through
four years of furious civil conflict without any serious
detriment to its free institutions.

He was, indeed, while President, violently denounced by the
opposition as a tyrant and a usurper, for having gone beyond his
constitutional powers in authorizing or permitting the temporary
suppression of newspapers, and in wantonly suspending the writ of
habeas corpus and resorting to arbitrary arrests. Nobody should
be blamed who, when such things are done, in good faith and from
patriotic motives protests against them. In a republic,
arbitrary stretches of power, even when demanded by necessity,
should never be permitted to pass without a protest on the one
hand, and without an apology on the other. It is well they did
not so pass during our civil war. That arbitrary measures were
resorted to is true. That they were resorted to most sparingly,
and only when the government thought them absolutely required by
the safety of the republic, will now hardly be denied. But
certain it is that the history of the world does not furnish a
single example of a government passing through so tremendous a
crisis as our civil war was with so small a record of arbitrary
acts, and so little interference with the ordinary course of law
outside the field of military operations. No American President
ever wielded such power as that which was thrust into Lincoln’s
hands. It is to be hoped that no American President ever will
have to be entrusted with such power again. But no man was ever
entrusted with it to whom its seductions were less dangerous than
they proved to be to Abraham Lincoln. With scrupulous care he
endeavored, even under the most trying circumstances, to remain
strictly within the constitutional limitations of his authority;
and whenever the boundary became indistinct, or when the dangers
of the situation forced him to cross it, he was equally careful
to mark his acts as exceptional measures, justifiable only by the
imperative necessities of the civil war, so that they might not
pass into history as precedents for similar acts in time of
peace. It is an unquestionable fact that during the
reconstruction period which followed the war, more things were
done capable of serving as dangerous precedents than during the
war itself. Thus it may truly be said of him not only that under
his guidance the republic was saved from disruption and the
country was purified of the blot of slavery, but that, during the
stormiest and most perilous crisis in our history, he so
conducted the government and so wielded his almost dictatorial
power as to leave essentially intact our free institutions in all
things that concern the rights and liberties of the citizens. He
understood well the nature of the problem. In his first message
to Congress he defined it in admirably pointed language: “Must a
government be of necessity too strong for the liberties of its
own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence? Is there
in all republics this inherent weakness?” This question he
answered in the name of the great American republic, as no man
could have answered it better, with a triumphant “No….”

It has been said that Abraham Lincoln died at the right moment
for his fame. However that may be, he had, at the time of his
death, certainly not exhausted his usefulness to his country. He
was probably the only man who could have guided the nation
through the perplexities of the reconstruction period in such a
manner as to prevent in the work of peace the revival of the
passions of the war. He would indeed not have escaped serious
controversy as to details of policy; but he could have weathered
it far better than any other statesman of his time, for his
prestige with the active politicians had been immensely
strengthened by his triumphant re-election; and, what is more
important, he would have been supported by the confidence of the
victorious Northern people that he would do all to secure the
safety of the Union and the rights of the emancipated negro, and
at the same time by the confidence of the defeated Southern
people that nothing would be done by him from motives of
vindictiveness, or of unreasoning fanaticism, or of a selfish
party spirit. “With malice toward none, with charity for all,”
the foremost of the victors would have personified in himself the
genius of reconciliation.

He might have rendered the country a great service in another
direction. A few days after the fall of Richmond, he pointed out
to a friend the crowd of office-seekers besieging his door.
“Look at that,” said he. ” Now we have conquered the rebellion,
but here you see something that may become more dangerous to this
republic than the rebellion itself.” It is true, Lincoln as
President did not profess what we now call civil service reform
principles. He used the patronage of the government in many
cases avowedly to reward party work, in many others to form
combinations and to produce political effects advantageous to the
Union cause, and in still others simply to put the right man into
the right place. But in his endeavors to strengthen the Union
cause, and in his search for able and useful men for public
duties, he frequently went beyond the limits of his party, and
gradually accustomed himself to the thought that, while party
service had its value, considerations of the public interest
were, as to appointments to office, of far greater consequence.
Moreover, there had been such a mingling of different political
elements in support of the Union during the civil war that
Lincoln, standing at the head of that temporarily united motley
mass, hardly felt himself, in the narrow sense of the term, a
party man. And as he became strongly impressed with the dangers
brought upon the republic by the use of public offices as party
spoils, it is by no means improbable that, had he survived the
all-absorbing crisis and found time to turn to other objects, one
of the most important reforms of later days would have been
pioneered by his powerful authority. This was not to be. But
the measure of his achievements was full enough for immortality.

To the younger generation Abraham Lincoln has already become a
half-mythical figure, which, in the haze of historic distance,
grows to more and more heroic proportions, but also loses in
distinctness of outline and feature. This is indeed the common
lot of popular heroes; but the Lincoln legend will be more than
ordinarily apt to become fanciful, as his individuality,
assembling seemingly incongruous qualities and forces in a
character at the same time grand and most lovable, was so unique,
and his career so abounding in startling contrasts. As the state
of society in which Abraham Lincoln grew up passes away, the
world will read with increasing wonder of the man who, not only
of the humblest origin, but remaining the simplest and most
unpretending of citizens, was raised to a position of power
unprecedented in our history; who was the gentlest and most
peace-loving of mortals, unable to see any creature suffer
without a pang in his own breast, and suddenly found himself
called to conduct the greatest and bloodiest of our wars; who
wielded the power of government when stern resolution and
relentless force were the order of the day and then won and ruled
the popular mind and heart by the tender sympathies of his
nature; who was a cautious conservative by temperament and mental
habit, and led the most sudden and sweeping social revolution of
our time; who, preserving his homely speech and rustic manner
even in the most conspicuous position of that period, drew upon
himself the scoffs of polite society, and then thrilled the soul
of mankind with utterances of wonderful beauty and grandeur; who,
in his heart the best friend of the defeated South, was murdered
because a crazy fanatic took him for its most cruel enemy; who,
while in power, was beyond measure lampooned and maligned by
sectional passion and an excited party spirit, and around whose
bier friend and foe gathered to praise him which they have since
never ceased to do–as one of the greatest of Americans and the
best of men.



[This Address was delivered before the Edinburgh Philosophical
Institution, November 13, 1900. It is included in this set with
the courteous permission of the author and of Messrs. Thomas Y.
Crowell & Company.]


When you asked me to deliver the Inaugural Address on this
occasion, I recognized that I owed this compliment to the fact
that I was the official representative of America, and in
selecting a subject I ventured to think that I might interest you
for an hour in a brief study in popular government, as
illustrated by the life of the most American of all Americans. I
therefore offer no apology for asking your attention to Abraham
Lincoln–to his unique character and the part he bore in two
important achievements of modern history: the preservation of the
integrity of the American Union and the emancipation of the
colored race.

During his brief term of power he was probably the object of more
abuse, vilification, and ridicule than any other man in the
world; but when he fell by the hand of an assassin, at the very
moment of his stupendous victory, all the nations of the earth
vied with one another in paying homage to his character, and the
thirty-five years that have since elapsed have established his
place in history as one of the great benefactors not of his own
country alone, but of the human race.

One of many noble utterances upon the occasion of his death was
that in which ‘Punch’ made its magnanimous recantation of the
spirit with which it had pursued him:

“Beside this corpse that bears for winding sheet
The stars and stripes he lived to rear anew,
Between the mourners at his head and feet,
Say, scurrile jester, is there room for you?


“Yes, he had lived to shame me from my sneer,
To lame my pencil, and confute my pen
To make me own this hind–of princes peer,
This rail-splitter–a true born king of men.”

Fiction can furnish no match for the romance of his life, and
biography will be searched in vain for such startling
vicissitudes of fortune, so great power and glory won out of such
humble beginnings and adverse circumstances.

Doubtless you are all familiar with the salient points of his
extraordinary career. In the zenith of his fame he was the wise,
patient, courageous, successful ruler of men; exercising more
power than any monarch of his time, not for himself, but for the
good of the people who had placed it in his hands; commander-in-
chief of a vast military power, which waged with ultimate success
the greatest war of the century; the triumphant champion of
popular government, the deliverer of four millions of his fellow-
men from bondage; honored by mankind as Statesman, President, and

Let us glance now at the first half of the brief life of which
this was the glorious and happy consummation. Nothing could be
more squalid and miserable than the home in which Abraham Lincoln
was born–a one-roomed cabin without floor or window in what was
then the wilderness of Kentucky, in the heart of that frontier
life which swiftly moved westward from the Alleghanies to the
Mississippi, always in advance of schools and churches, of books
and money, of railroads and newspapers, of all things which are
generally regarded as the comforts and even necessaries of life.
His father, ignorant, needy, and thriftless, content if he could
keep soul and body together for himself and his family, was ever
seeking, without success, to better his unhappy condition by
moving on from one such scene of dreary desolation to another.
The rude society which surrounded them was not much better. The
struggle for existence was hard, and absorbed all their energies.
They were fighting the forest, the wild beast, and the retreating
savage. From the time when he could barely handle tools until he
attained his majority, Lincoln’s life was that of a simple farm
laborer, poorly clad, housed, and fed, at work either on his
father’s wretched farm or hired out to neighboring farmers. But
in spite, or perhaps by means, of this rude environment, he grew
to be a stalwart giant, reaching six feet four at nineteen, and
fabulous stories are told of his feats of strength. With the
growth of this mighty frame began that strange education which in
his ripening years was to qualify him for the great destiny that
awaited him, and the development of those mental faculties and
moral endowments which, by the time he reached middle life, were
to make him the sagacious, patient, and triumphant leader of a
great nation in the crisis of its fate. His whole schooling,
obtained during such odd times as could be spared from grinding
labor, did not amount in all to as much as one year, and the
quality of the teaching was of the lowest possible grade,
including only the elements of reading, writing, and ciphering.
But out of these simple elements, when rightly used by the right
man, education is achieved, and Lincoln knew how to use them. As
so often happens, he seemed to take warning from his father’s
unfortunate example. Untiring industry, an insatiable thirst for
knowledge, and an ever-growing desire to rise above his
surroundings, were early manifestations of his character.

Books were almost unknown in that community, but the Bible was in
every house, and somehow or other Pilgrim’s Progress, AEsop’s
Fables, a History of the United States, and a Life of Washington
fell into his hands. He trudged on foot many miles through the
wilderness to borrow an English Grammar, and is said to have
devoured greedily the contents of the Statutes of Indiana that
fell in his way. These few volumes he read and reread–and his
power of assimilation was great. To be shut in with a few books
and to master them thoroughly sometimes does more for the
development of character than freedom to range at large, in a
cursory and indiscriminate way, through wide domains of
literature. This youth’s mind, at any rate, was thoroughly
saturated with Biblical knowledge and Biblical language, which,
in after life, he used with great readiness and effect. But it
was the constant use of the little knowledge which he had that
developed and exercised his mental powers. After the hard day’s
work was done, while others slept, he toiled on, always reading
or writing. From an early age he did his own thinking and made
up his own mind–invaluable traits in the future President.
Paper was such a scarce commodity that, by the evening firelight,
he would write and cipher on the back of a wooden shovel, and
then shave it off to make room for more. By and by, as he
approached manhood, he began speaking in the rude gatherings of
the neighborhood, and so laid the foundation of that art of
persuading his fellow-men which was one rich result of his
education, and one great secret of his subsequent success.

Accustomed as we are in these days of steam and telegraphs to
have every intelligent boy survey the whole world each morning
before breakfast, and inform himself as to what is going on in
every nation, it is hardly possible to conceive how benighted and
isolated was the condition of the community at Pigeon Creek in
Indiana, of which the family of Lincoln’s father formed a part,
or how eagerly an ambitious and high-spirited boy, such as he,
must have yearned to escape. The first glimpse that he ever got
of any world beyond the narrow confines of his home was in 1828,
at the age of nineteen, when a neighbor employed him to accompany
his son down the river to New Orleans to dispose of a flatboat of
produce–a commission which he discharged with great success.

Shortly after his return from this his first excursion into the
outer world, his father, tired of failure in Indiana, packed his
family and all his worldly goods into a single wagon drawn by two
yoke of oxen, and after a fourteen days’ tramp through the
wilderness, pitched his camp once more, in Illinois. Here
Abraham, having come of age and being now his own master,
rendered the last service of his minority by ploughing the
fifteen-acre lot and splitting from the tall walnut trees of the
primeval forest enough rails to surround the little clearing with
a fence. Such was the meagre outfit of this coming leader of
men, at the age when the future British Prime Minister or
statesman emerges from the university as a double first or senior
wrangler, with every advantage that high training and broad
culture and association with the wisest and the best of men and
women can give, and enters upon some form of public service on
the road to usefulness and honor, the University course being
only the first stage of the public training. So Lincoln, at
twenty-one, had just begun his preparation for the public life to
which he soon began to aspire. For some years yet he must
continue to earn his daily bread by the sweat of his brow, having
absolutely no means, no home, no friend to consult. More farm
work as a hired hand, a clerkship in a village store, the running
of a mill, another trip to New Orleans on a flatboat of his own
contriving, a pilot’s berth on the river–these were the means by
which he subsisted until, in the summer of 1832, when he was
twenty-three years of age, an event occurred which gave him
public recognition.

The Black Hawk war broke out, and, the Governor of Illinois
calling for volunteers to repel the band of savages whose leader
bore that name, Lincoln enlisted and was elected captain by his
comrades, among whom he had already established his supremacy by
signal feats of strength and more than one successful single
combat. During the brief hostilities he was engaged in no battle
and won no military glory, but his local leadership was
established. The same year he offered himself as a candidate for
the Legislature of Illinois, but failed at the polls. Yet his
vast popularity with those who knew him was manifest. The
district consisted of several counties, but the unanimous vote of
the people of his own county was for Lincoln. Another
unsuccessful attempt at store-keeping was followed by better luck
at surveying, until his horse and instruments were levied upon
under execution for the debts of his business adventure.

I have been thus detailed in sketching his early years because
upon these strange foundations the structure of his great fame
and service was built. In the place of a school and university
training fortune substituted these trials, hardships, and
struggles as a preparation for the great work which he had to do.
It turned out to be exactly what the emergency required. Ten
years instead at the public school and the university certainly
never could have fitted this man for the unique work which was to
be thrown upon him. Some other Moses would have had to lead us
to our Jordan, to the sight of our promised land of liberty.

At the age of twenty-five he became a member of the Legislature
of Illinois, and so continued for eight years, and, in the
meantime, qualified himself by reading such law books as he could
borrow at random–for he was too poor to buy any to be called to
the Bar. For his second quarter of a century–during which a
single term in Congress introduced him into the arena of national
questions–he gave himself up to law and politics. In spite of
his soaring ambition, his two years in Congress gave him no
premonition of the great destiny that awaited him,–and at its
close, in 1849, we find him an unsuccessful applicant to the
President for appointment as Commissioner of the General Land
Office–a purely administrative bureau; a fortunate escape for
himself and for his country. Year by year his knowledge and
power, his experience and reputation extended, and his mental
faculties seemed to grow by what they fed on. His power of
persuasion, which had always been marked, was developed to an
extraordinary degree, now that he became engaged in congenial
questions and subjects. Little by little he rose to prominence
at the Bar, and became the most effective public speaker in the
West. Not that he possessed any of the graces of the orator; but
his logic was invincible, and his clearness and force of
statement impressed upon his hearers the convictions of his
honest mind, while his broad sympathies and sparkling and genial
humor made him a universal favorite as far and as fast as his
acquaintance extended.

These twenty years that elapsed from the time of his
establishment as a lawyer and legislator in Springfield, the new
capital of Illinois, furnished a fitting theatre for the
development and display of his great faculties, and, with his new
and enlarged opportunities, he obviously grew in mental stature
in this second period of his career, as if to compensate for the
absolute lack of advantages under which he had suffered in youth.
As his powers enlarged, his reputation extended, for he was
always before the people, felt a warm sympathy with all that
concerned them, took a zealous part in the discussion of every
public question, and made his personal influence ever more widely
and deeply felt.

My, brethren of the legal profession will naturally ask me, how
could this rough backwoodsman, whose youth had been spent in the
forest or on the farm and the flatboat, without culture or
training, education or study, by the random reading, on the wing,
of a few miscellaneous law books, become a learned and
accomplished lawyer? Well, he never did. He never would have
earned his salt as a ‘Writer’ for the ‘Signet’, nor have won a
place as advocate in the Court of Session, where the technique of
the profession has reached its highest perfection, and centuries
of learning and precedent are involved in the equipment of a
lawyer. Dr. Holmes, when asked by an anxious young mother, “When
should the education of a child begin?” replied, “Madam, at least
two centuries before it is born!” and so I am sure it is with the
Scots lawyer.

But not so in Illinois in 1840. Between i83o and x88o its
population increased twenty-fold, and when Lincoln began
practising law in Springfield in 1837, life in Illinois was very
crude and simple, and so were the courts and the administration
of justice. Books and libraries were scarce. But the people
loved justice, upheld the law, and followed the courts, and soon
found their favorites among the advocates. The fundamental
principles of the common law, as set forth by Blackstone and
Chitty, were not so difficult to acquire; and brains, common
sense, force of character, tenacity of purpose, ready wit and
power of speech did the rest, and supplied all the deficiencies
of learning.

The lawsuits of those days were extremely simple, and the
principles of natural justice were mainly relied on to dispose of
them at the Bar and on the Bench, without resort to technical
learning. Railroads, corporations absorbing the chief business
of the community, combined and inherited wealth, with all the
subtle and intricate questions they breed, had not yet come in–
and so the professional agents and the equipment which they
require were not needed. But there were many highly educated and
powerful men at the Bar of Illinois, even in those early days,
whom the spirit of enterprise had carried there in search of fame
and fortune. It was by constant contact and conflict with these
that Lincoln acquired professional strength and skill. Every
community and every age creates its own Bar, entirely adequate
for its present uses and necessities. So in Illinois, as the
population and wealth of the State kept on doubling and
quadrupling, its Bar presented a growing abundance of learning
and science and technical skill. The early practitioners grew
with its growth and mastered the requisite knowledge. Chicago
soon grew to be one of the largest and richest and certainly the
most intensely active city on the continent, and if any of my
professional friends here had gone there in Lincoln’s later
years, to try or argue a cause, or transact other business, with
any idea that Edinburgh or London had a monopoly of legal
learning, science, or subtlety, they would certainly have found
their mistake.

In those early days in the West, every lawyer, especially every
court lawyer, was necessarily a politician, constantly engaged in
the public discussion of the many questions evolved from the
rapid development of town, county, State, and Federal affairs.
Then and there, in this regard, public discussion supplied the
place which the universal activity of the press has since
monopolized, and the public speaker who, by clearness, force,
earnestness, and wit; could make himself felt on the questions of
the day would rapidly come to the front. In the absence of that
immense variety of popular entertainments which now feed the
public taste and appetite, the people found their chief amusement
in frequenting the courts and public and political assemblies.
In either place, he who impressed, entertained, and amused them
most was the hero of the hour. They did not discriminate very
carefully between the eloquence of the forum and the eloquence of
the hustings. Human nature ruled in both alike, and he who was
the most effective speaker in a political harangue was often
retained as most likely to win in a cause to be tried or argued.
And I have no doubt in this way many retainers came to Lincoln.
Fees, money in any form, had no charms for him–in his eager
pursuit of fame he could not afford to make money. He was
ambitious to distinguish himself by some great service to
mankind, and this ambition for fame and real public service left
no room for avarice in his composition. However much he earned,
he seems to have ended every year hardly richer than he began it,
and yet, as the years passed, fees came to him freely. One of
L 1,000 is recorded–a very large professional fee at that time,
even in any part of America, the paradise of lawyers. I lay
great stress on Lincoln’s career as a lawyer–much more than his
biographers do because in America a state of things exists wholly
different from that which prevails in Great Britain. The
profession of the law always has been and is to this day the
principal avenue to public life; and I am sure that his training
and experience in the courts had much to do with the development
of those forces of intellect and character which he soon
displayed on a broader arena.

It was in political controversy, of course, that he acquired his
wide reputation, and made his deep and lasting impression upon
the people of what had now become the powerful State of Illinois,
and upon the people of the Great West, to whom the political
power and control of the United States were already surely and
swiftly passing from the older Eastern States. It was this
reputation and this impression, and the familiar knowledge of his
character which had come to them from his local leadership, that
happily inspired the people of the West to present him as their
candidate, and to press him upon the Republican convention of
1860 as the fit and necessary leader in the struggle for life
which was before the nation.

That struggle, as you all know, arose out of the terrible
question of slavery–and I must trust to your general knowledge
of the history of that question to make intelligible the attitude
and leadership of Lincoln as the champion of the hosts of freedom
in the final contest. Negro slavery had been firmly established
in the Southern States from an early period of their history. In
1619, the year before the Mayflower landed our Pilgrim Fathers
upon Plymouth Rock, a Dutch ship had discharged a cargo of
African slaves at Jamestown in Virginia: All through the colonial
period their importation had continued. A few had found their
way into the Northern States, but none of them in sufficient
numbers to constitute danger or to afford a basis for political
power. At the time of the adoption of the Federal Constitution,
there is no doubt that the principal members of the convention
not only condemned slavery as a moral, social, and political
evil, but believed that by the suppression of the slave trade it
was in the course of gradual extinction in the South, as it
certainly was in the North. Washington, in his will, provided
for the emancipation of his own slaves, and said to Jefferson
that it “was among his first wishes to see some plan adopted by
which slavery in his country might be abolished.” Jefferson
said, referring to the institution: “I tremble for my country
when I think that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep
forever,”–and Franklin, Adams, Hamilton, and Patrick Henry were
all utterly opposed to it. But it was made the subject of a
fatal compromise in the Federal Constitution, whereby its
existence was recognized in the States as a basis of
representation, the prohibition of the importation of slaves was
postponed for twenty years, and the return of fugitive slaves
provided for. But no imminent danger was apprehended from it
till, by the invention of the cotton gin in 1792, cotton culture
by negro labor became at once and forever the leading industry of
the South, and gave a new impetus to the importation of slaves,
so that in 1808, when the constitutional prohibition took effect,
their numbers had vastly increased. From that time forward
slavery became the basis of a great political power, and the
Southern States, under all circumstances and at every
opportunity, carried on a brave and unrelenting struggle for its
maintenance and extension.

The conscience of the North was slow to rise against it, though
bitter controversies from time to time took place. The Southern
leaders threatened disunion if their demands were not complied
with. To save the Union, compromise after compromise was made,
but each one in the end was broken. The Missouri Compromise,
made in 1820 upon the occasion of the admission of Missouri into
the Union as a slave State, whereby, in consideration of such
admission, slavery was forever excluded from the Northwest
Territory, was ruthlessly repealed in 1854, by a Congress elected
in the interests of the slave power, the intent being to force
slavery into that vast territory which had so long been dedicated
to freedom. This challenge at last aroused the slumbering
conscience and passion of the North, and led to the formation of
the Republican party for the avowed purpose of preventing, by
constitutional methods, the further extension of slavery.

In its first campaign, in 1856, though it failed to elect its
candidates; it received a surprising vote and carried many of the
States. No one could any longer doubt that the North had made up
its mind that no threats of disunion should deter it from
pressing its cherished purpose and performing its long neglected
duty. From the outset, Lincoln was one of the most active and
effective leaders and speakers of the new party, and the great
debates between Lincoln and Douglas in 1858, as the respective
champions of the restriction and extension of slavery, attracted
the attention of the whole country. Lincoln’s powerful arguments
carried conviction everywhere. His moral nature was thoroughly
aroused his conscience was stirred to the quick. Unless slavery
was wrong, nothing was wrong. Was each man, of whatever color,
entitled to the fruits of his own labor, or could one man live in
idle luxury by the sweat of another’s brow, whose skin was
darker? He was an implicit believer in that principle of the
Declaration of Independence that all men are vested with certain
inalienable rights the equal rights to life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness. On this doctrine he staked his case and
carried it. We have time only for one or two sentences in which
he struck the keynote of the contest

“The real issue in this country is the eternal struggle between
these two principles–right and wrong–throughout the world.
They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the
beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle. The one
is the common right of humanity, and the other the divine right
of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops
itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You work and toil and
earn bread and I’ll eat it.”

He foresaw with unerring vision that the conflict was inevitable
and irrepressible–that one or the other, the right or the wrong,
freedom or slavery, must ultimately prevail and wholly prevail,
throughout the country; and this was the principle that carried
the war, once begun, to a finish.

One sentence of his is immortal:

“Under the operation of the policy of compromise, the slavery
agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented.
In my opinion it will not cease until a crisis shall have been
reached and passed. ‘A house divided against itself cannot
stand.’ I believe this government cannot endure permanently half
slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved.
I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease
to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other;
either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of
it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief
that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates
will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the
States, old as well as new, North as well as South.”

During the entire decade from 1850 to 1860 the agitation of the
slavery question was at the boiling point, and events which have
become historical continually indicated the near approach of the
overwhelming storm. No sooner had the Compromise Acts of 1850
resulted in a temporary peace, which everybody said must be final
and perpetual, than new outbreaks came. The forcible carrying
away of fugitive slaves by Federal troops from Boston agitated
that ancient stronghold of freedom to its foundations. The
publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which truly exposed the
frightful possibilities of the slave system; the reckless
attempts by force and fraud to establish it in Kansas against the
will of the vast majority of the settlers; the beating of Summer
in the Senate Chamber for words spoken in debate; the Dred Scott
decision in the Supreme Court, which made the nation realize that
the slave power had at last reached the fountain of Federal
justice; and finally the execution of John Brown, for his wild
raid into Virginia, to invite the slaves to rally to the standard
of freedom which he unfurled:–all these events tend to
illustrate and confirm Lincoln’s contention that the nation could
not permanently continue half slave and half free, but must
become all one thing or all the other. When John Brown lay under
sentence of death he declared that now he was sure that slavery
must be wiped out in blood; but neither he nor his executioners
dreamt that within four years a million soldiers would be
marching across the country for its final extirpation, to the
music of the war-song of the great conflict:

“John Brown’s body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
But his soul is marching on.”

And now, at the age of fifty-one, this child of the wilderness,
this farm laborer, rail-sputter, flatboatman, this surveyor,
lawyer, orator, statesman, and patriot, found himself elected by
the great party which was pledged to prevent at all hazards the
further extension of slavery, as the chief magistrate of the
Republic, bound to carry out that purpose, to be the leader and
ruler of the nation in its most trying hour.

Those who believe that there is a living Providence that
overrules and conducts the affairs of nations, find in the
elevation of this plain man to this extraordinary fortune and to
this great duty, which he so fitly discharged, a signal
vindication of their faith. Perhaps to this philosophical
institution the judgment of our philosopher Emerson will commend
itself as a just estimate of Lincoln’s historical place

“His occupying the chair of state was a triumph of the good sense
of mankind and of the public conscience. He grew according to
the need; his mind mastered the problem of the day: and as the
problem grew, so did his comprehension of it. In the war there
was no place for holiday magistrate, nor fair-weather sailor.
The new pilot was hurried to the helm in a tornado. In four
years–four years of battle days–his endurance, his fertility of
resource, his magnanimity, were sorely tried, and never found
wanting. There, by his courage, his justice, his even temper,
his fertile counsel, his humanity, he stood a heroic figure in
the centre of a heroic epoch. He is the true history of the
American people in his time, the true representative of this
continent–father of his country, the pulse of twenty millions
throbbing in his heart, the thought of their mind–articulated in
his tongue.”

He was born great, as distinguished from those who achieve
greatness or have it thrust upon them, and his inherent capacity,
mental, moral, and physical, having been recognized by the
educated intelligence of a free people, they happily chose him
for their ruler in a day of deadly peril.

It is now forty years since I first saw and heard Abraham
Lincoln, but the impression which he left on my mind is
ineffaceable. After his great successes in the West he came to
New York to make a political address. He appeared in every sense
of the word like one of the plain people among whom he loved to
be counted. At first sight there was nothing impressive or
imposing about him–except that his great stature singled him out
from the crowd: his clothes hung awkwardly on his giant frame;
his face was of a dark pallor, without the slightest tinge of
color; his seamed and rugged features bore the furrows of
hardship and struggle; his deep-set eyes looked sad and anxious;
his countenance in repose gave little evidence of that brain
power which had raised him from the lowest to the highest station
among his countrymen; as he talked to me before the meeting, he
seemed ill at ease, with that sort of apprehension which a young
man might feel before presenting himself to a new and strange
audience, whose critical disposition he dreaded. It was a great
audience, including all the noted men–all the learned and
cultured of his party in New York editors, clergymen, statesmen,
lawyers, merchants, critics. They were all very curious to hear
him. His fame as a powerful speaker had preceded him, and
exaggerated rumor of his wit–the worst forerunner of an orator–
had reached the East. When Mr. Bryant presented him, on the high
platform of the Cooper Institute, a vast sea of eager upturned
faces greeted him, full of intense curiosity to see what this
rude child of the people was like. He was equal to the occasion.
When he spoke he was transformed; his eye kindled, his voice
rang, his face shone and seemed to light up the whole assembly.
For an hour and a half he held his audience in the hollow of his
hand. His style of speech and manner of delivery were severely
simple. What Lowell called “the grand simplicities of the
Bible,” with which he was so familiar, were reflected in his
discourse. With no attempt at ornament or rhetoric, without
parade or pretence, he spoke straight to the point. If any came
expecting the turgid eloquence or the ribaldry of the frontier,
they must have been startled at the earnest and sincere purity of
his utterances. It was marvellous to see how this untutored man,
by mere self-discipline and the chastening of his own spirit, had
outgrown all meretricious arts, and found his own way to the
grandeur and strength of absolute simplicity.

He spoke upon the theme which he had mastered so thoroughly. He
demonstrated by copious historical proofs and masterly logic that
the fathers who created the Constitution in order to form a more
perfect union, to establish justice, and to secure the blessings
of liberty to themselves and their posterity, intended to empower
the Federal Government to exclude slavery from the Territories.
In the kindliest spirit he protested against the avowed threat of
the Southern States to destroy the Union if, in order to secure
freedom in those vast regions out of which future States were to
be carved, a Republican President were elected. He closed with
an appeal to his audience, spoken with all the fire of his
aroused and kindling conscience, with a full outpouring of his
love of justice and liberty, to maintain their political purpose
on that lofty and unassailable issue of right and wrong which
alone could justify it, and not to be intimidated from their high
resolve and sacred duty by any threats of destruction to the
government or of ruin to themselves. He concluded with this
telling sentence, which drove the whole argument home to all our
hearts: “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that
faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.”
That night the great hall, and the next day the whole city, rang
with delighted applause and congratulations, and he who had come
as a stranger departed with the laurels of great triumph.

Alas! in five years from that exulting night I saw him again, for
the last time, in the same city, borne in his coffin through its
draped streets. With tears and lamentations a heart-broken
people accompanied him from Washington, the scene of his
martyrdom, to his last resting-place in the young city of the
West where he had worked his way to fame.

Never was a new ruler in a more desperate plight than Lincoln
when he entered office on the fourth of March, 1861, four months
after his election, and took his oath to support the Constitution
and the Union. The intervening time had been busily employed by
the Southern States in carrying out their threat of disunion in
the event of his election. As soon as the fact was ascertained,
seven of them had seceded and had seized upon the forts,
arsenals, navy yards, and other public property of the United
States within their boundaries, and were making every preparation
for war. In the meantime the retiring President, who had been
elected by the slave power, and who thought the seceding States
could not lawfully be coerced, had done absolutely nothing.
Lincoln found himself, by the Constitution, Commander-in-Chief of
the Army and Navy of the United States, but with only a remnant
of either at hand. Each was to be created on a great scale out
of the unknown resources of a nation untried in war.

In his mild and conciliatory inaugural address, while appealing
to the seceding States to return to their allegiance, he avowed
his purpose to keep the solemn oath he had taken that day, to see
that the laws of the Union were faithfully executed, and to use
the troops to recover the forts, navy yards, and other property
belonging to the government. It is probable, however, that
neither side actually realized that war was inevitable, and that
the other was determined to fight, until the assault on Fort
Sumter presented the South as the first aggressor and roused the
North to use every possible resource to maintain the government
and the imperilled Union, and to vindicate the supremacy of the
flag over every inch of the territory of the United States. The
fact that Lincoln’s first proclamation called for only 75,000
troops, to serve for three months, shows how inadequate was even
his idea of what the future had in store. But from that moment
Lincoln and his loyal supporters never faltered in their purpose.
They knew they could win, that it was their duty to win, and that
for America the whole hope of the future depended upon their
winning; for now by the acts of the seceding States the issue of
the election to secure or prevent the extension of slavery–stood
transformed into a struggle to preserve or to destroy the Union.

We cannot follow this contest. You know its gigantic
proportions; that it lasted four years instead of three months;
that in its progress, instead of 75,000 men, more than 2,000,000
were enrolled on the side of the government alone; that the
aggregate cost and loss to the nation approximated to
1,000,000,000 pounds sterling, and that not less than 300,000
brave and precious lives were sacrificed on each side. History
has recorded how Lincoln bore himself during these four frightful
years; that he was the real President, the responsible and actual
head of the government, through it all; that he listened to all
advice, heard all parties, and then, always realizing his
responsibility to God and the nation, decided every great
executive question for himself. His absolute honesty had become
proverbial long before he was President. “Honest Abe Lincoln”
was the name by which he had been known for years. His every act
attested it.

In all the grandeur of the vast power that he wielded, he never
ceased to be one of the plain people, as he always called them,
never lost or impaired his perfect sympathy with them, was always
in perfect touch with them and open to their appeals; and here
lay the very secret of his personality and of his power, for the
people in turn gave him their absolute confidence. His courage,
his fortitude, his patience, his hopefulness, were sorely tried
but never exhausted.

He was true as steel to his generals, but had frequent occasion
to change them, as he found them inadequate. This serious and
painful duty rested wholly upon him, and was perhaps his most
important function as Commander-in-Chief; but when, at last, he
recognized in General Grant the master of the situation, the man
who could and would bring the war to a triumphant end, he gave it
all over to him and upheld him with all his might. Amid all the
pressure and distress that the burdens of office brought upon
him, his unfailing sense of humor saved him; probably it made it
possible for him to live under the burden. He had always been
the great story-teller of the West, and he used and cultivated
this faculty to relieve the weight of the load he bore.

It enabled him to keep the wonderful record of never having lost
his temper, no matter what agony he had to bear. A whole night
might be spent in recounting the stories of his wit, humor, and
harmless sarcasm. But I will recall only two of his sayings,
both about General Grant, who always found plenty of enemies and
critics to urge the President to oust him from his command. One,
I am sure, will interest all Scotchmen. They repeated with
malicious intent the gossip that Grant drank. “What does he
drink?” asked Lincoln. “Whiskey,” was, of course, the answer;
doubtless you can guess the brand. “Well,” said the President,
“just find out what particular kind he uses and I’ll send a
barrel to each of my other generals.” The other must be as
pleasing to the British as to the American ear. When pressed
again on other grounds to get rid of Grant, he declared, “I can’t
spare that man, he fights!”

He was tender-hearted to a fault, and never could resist the
appeals of wives and mothers of soldiers who had got into trouble
and were under sentence of death for their offences. His
Secretary of War and other officials complained that they never
could get deserters shot. As surely as the women of the
culprit’s family could get at him he always gave way. Certainly
you will all appreciate his exquisite sympathy with the suffering
relatives of those who had fallen in battle. His heart bled with
theirs. Never was there a more gentle and tender utterance than
his letter to a mother who had given all her sons to her country,
written at a time when the angel of death had visited almost
every household in the land, and was already hovering over him.

“I have been shown,” he says, “in the files of the War Department
a statement that you are the mother of five sons who have died
gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless
must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you
from your grief for a loss so overwhelming but I cannot refrain
from tendering to you the consolation which may be found in the
thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our
Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement and
leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and the lost,
and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a
sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.”

Hardly could your illustrious sovereign, from the depths of her
queenly and womanly heart, have spoken words more touching and
tender to soothe the stricken mothers of her own soldiers.

The Emancipation Proclamation, with which Mr. Lincoln delighted
the country and the world on the first of January, 1863, will
doubtless secure for him a foremost place in history among the
philanthropists and benefactors of the race, as it rescued, from
hopeless and degrading slavery, so many millions of his fellow-
beings described in the law and existing in fact as “chattels-
personal, in the hands of their owners and possessors, to all
intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever.” Rarely does
the happy fortune come to one man to render such a service to his
kind–to proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the
inhabitants thereof.

Ideas rule the world, and never was there a more signal instance
of this triumph of an idea than here. William Lloyd Garrison,
who thirty years before had begun his crusade for the abolition
of slavery, and had lived to see this glorious and unexpected
consummation of the hopeless cause to which he had devoted his
life, well described the proclamation as a “great historic event,
sublime in its magnitude, momentous and beneficent in its far-
reaching consequences, and eminently just and right alike to the
oppressor and the oppressed.”

Lincoln had always been heart and soul opposed to slavery.
Tradition says that on the trip on the flatboat to New Orleans he
formed his first and last opinion of slavery at the sight of
negroes chained and scourged, and that then and there the iron
entered into his soul. No boy could grow to manhood in those
days as a poor white in Kentucky and Indiana, in close contact
with slavery or in its neighborhood, without a growing
consciousness of its blighting effects on free labor, as well as
of its frightful injustice and cruelty. In the Legislature of
Illinois, where the public sentiment was all for upholding the
institution and violently against every movement for its
abolition or restriction, upon the passage of resolutions to that
effect he had the courage with one companion to put on record his
protest, “believing that the institution of slavery is founded
both in injustice and bad policy.” No great demonstration of
courage, you will say; but that was at a time when Garrison, for
his abolition utterances, had been dragged by an angry mob
through the streets of Boston with a rope around his body, and in
the very year that Lovejoy in the same State of Illinois was
slain by rioters while defending his press, from which he had
printed antislavery appeals.

In Congress he brought in a bill for gradual abolition in the
District of Columbia, with compensation to the owners, for until
they raised treasonable hands against the life of the nation he
always maintained that the property of the slaveholders, into
which they had come by two centuries of descent, without fault on
their part, ought not to be taken away from them without just
compensation. He used to say that, one way or another, he had
voted forty-two times for the Wilmot Proviso, which Mr. Wilmot of
Pennsylvania moved as an addition to every bill which affected
United States territory, “that neither slavery nor involuntary
servitude shall ever exist in any part of the said territory,”
and it is evident that his condemnation of the system, on moral
grounds as a crime against the human race, and on political
grounds as a cancer that was sapping the vitals of the nation,
and must master its whole being or be itself extirpated, grew
steadily upon him until it culminated in his great speeches in
the Illinois debate.

By the mere election of Lincoln to the Presidency, the further
extension of slavery into the Territories was rendered forever
impossible–Vox populi, vox Dei. Revolutions never go backward,
and when founded on a great moral sentiment stirring the heart of
an indignant people their edicts are irresistible and final. Had
the slave power acquiesced in that election, had the Southern
States remained under the Constitution and within the Union, and
relied upon their constitutional and legal rights, their favorite
institution, immoral as it was, blighting and fatal as it was,
might have endured for another century. The great party that had
elected him, unalterably determined against its extension, was
nevertheless pledged not to interfere with its continuance in the
States where it already existed. Of course, when new regions
were forever closed against it, from its very nature it must have
begun to shrink and to dwindle; and probably gradual and
compensated emancipation, which appealed very strongly to the new
President’s sense of justice and expediency, would, in the
progress of time, by a reversion to the ideas of the founders of
the Republic, have found a safe outlet for both masters and
slaves. But whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad,
and when seven States, afterwards increased to eleven, openly
seceded from the Union, when they declared and began the war upon
the nation, and challenged its mighty power to the desperate and
protracted struggle for its life, and for the maintenance of its
authority as a nation over its territory, they gave to Lincoln
and to freedom the sublime opportunity of history.

In his first inaugural address, when as yet not a drop of
precious blood had been shed, while he held out to them the olive
branch in one hand, in the other he presented the guarantees of
the Constitution, and after reciting the emphatic resolution of
the convention that nominated him, that the maintenance inviolate
of the “rights of the States, and especially the right of each
State to order and control its own domestic institutions
according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that
balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our
political fabric depend,” he reiterated this sentiment, and
declared, with no mental reservation, “that all the protection
which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be
given, will be cheerfully given to all the States when lawfully
demanded for whatever cause as cheerfully to one section as to

When, however, these magnanimous overtures for peace and reunion
were rejected; when the seceding States defied the Constitution
and every clause and principle of it; when they persisted in
staying out of the Union from which they had seceded, and
proceeded to carve out of its territory a new and hostile empire
based on slavery; when they flew at the throat of the nation and
plunged it into the bloodiest war of the nineteenth century the
tables were turned, and the belief gradually came to the mind of
the President that if the Rebellion was not soon subdued by force
of arms, if the war must be fought out to the bitter end, then to
reach that end the salvation of the nation itself might require
the destruction of slavery wherever it existed; that if the war
was to continue on one side for Disunion, for no other purpose
than to preserve slavery, it must continue on the other side for
the Union, to destroy slavery.

As he said, “Events control me; I cannot control events,” and as
the dreadful war progressed and became more deadly and dangerous,
the unalterable conviction was forced upon him that, in order
that the frightful sacrifice of life and treasure on both sides
might not be all in vain, it had become his duty as Commander-in-
Chief of the Army, as a necessary war measure, to strike a blow
at the Rebellion which, all others failing, would inevitably lead
to its annihilation, by annihilating the very thing for which it
was contending. His own words are the best:

“I understood that my oath to preserve the Constitution to the
best of my ability imposed upon me the duty of preserving by
every indispensable means that government–that nation–of which
that Constitution was the organic law. Was it possible to lose
the nation and yet preserve the Constitution? By general law,
life and limb must be protected, yet often a limb must be
amputated to save a life; but a life is never wisely given to
save a limb. I felt that measures otherwise unconstitutional
might become lawful by becoming indispensable to the preservation
of the Constitution through the preservation of the nation.
Right or wrong, I assumed this ground and now avow it. I could
not feel that to the best of my ability I had ever tried to
preserve the Constitution if to save slavery or any minor matter
I should permit the wreck of government, country, and
Constitution all together.”

And so, at last, when in his judgment the indispensable necessity
had come, he struck the fatal blow, and signed the proclamation
which has made his name immortal. By it, the President, as
Commander-in-Chief in time of actual armed rebellion, and as a
fit and necessary war measure for suppressing the rebellion,
proclaimed all persons held as slaves in the States and parts of
States then in rebellion to be thenceforward free, and declared
that the executive, with the army and navy, would recognize and
maintain their freedom.

In the other great steps of the government, which led to the
triumphant prosecution of the war, he necessarily shared the
responsibility and the credit with the great statesmen who stayed
up his hands in his cabinet, with Seward, Chase and Stanton, and
the rest,–and with his generals and admirals, his soldiers and
sailors, but this great act was absolutely his own. The
conception and execution were exclusively his. He laid it before
his cabinet as a measure on which his mind was made up and could
not be changed, asking them only for suggestions as to details.
He chose the time and the circumstances under which the
Emancipation should be proclaimed and when it should take effect.

It came not an hour too soon; but public opinion in the North
would not have sustained it earlier. In the first eighteen
months of the war its ravages had extended from the Atlantic to
beyond the Mississippi. Many victories in the West had been
balanced and paralyzed by inaction and disasters in Virginia,
only partially redeemed by the bloody and indecisive battle of
Antietam; a reaction had set in from the general enthusiasm which
had swept the Northern States after the assault upon Sumter. It
could not truly be said that they had lost heart, but faction was
raising its head. Heard through the land like the blast of a
bugle, the proclamation rallied the patriotism of the country to
fresh sacrifices and renewed ardor. It was a step that could not
be revoked. It relieved the conscience of the nation from an
incubus that had oppressed it from its birth. The United States
were rescued from the false predicament in which they had been
from the beginning, and the great popular heart leaped with new
enthusiasm for “Liberty and Union, henceforth and forever, one
and inseparable.” It brought not only moral but material support
to the cause of the government, for within two years 120,000
colored troops were enlisted in the military service and
following the national flag, supported by all the loyalty of the
North, and led by its choicest spirits. One mother said, when
her son was offered the command of the first colored regiment,
“If he accepts it I shall be as proud as if I had heard that he
was shot.” He was shot heading a gallant charge of his
regiment…. The Confederates replied to a request of his
friends for his body that they had “buried him under a layer of
his niggers….;” but that mother has lived to enjoy thirty-six
years of his glory, and Boston has erected its noblest monument
to his memory.

The effect of the proclamation upon the actual progress of the
war was not immediate, but wherever the Federal armies advanced
they carried freedom with them, and when the summer came round
the new spirit and force which had animated the heart of the
government and people were manifest. In the first week of July
the decisive battle of Gettysburg turned the tide of war, and the
fall of Vicksburg made the great river free from its source to
the Gulf.

On foreign nations the influence of the proclamation and of these
new victories was of great importance. In those days, when there
was no cable, it was not easy for foreign observers to appreciate
what was really going on; they could not see clearly the true
state of affairs, as in the last year of the nineteenth century
we have been able, by our new electric vision, to watch every
event at the antipodes and observe its effect. The Rebel
emissaries, sent over to solicit intervention, spared no pains to
impress upon the minds of public and private men and upon the
press their own views of the character of the contest. The
prospects of the Confederacy were always better abroad than at
home. The stock markets of the world gambled upon its chances,
and its bonds at one time were high in favor.

Such ideas as these were seriously held: that the North was
fighting for empire and the South for independence; that the
Southern States, instead of being the grossest oligarchies,
essentially despotisms, founded on the right of one man to
appropriate the fruit of other men’s toil and to exclude them
from equal rights, were real republics, feebler to be sure than
their Northern rivals, but representing the same idea of freedom,
and that the mighty strength of the nation was being put forth to
crush them; that Jefferson Davis and the Southern leaders had
created a nation; that the republican experiment had failed and
the Union had ceased to exist. But the crowning argument to
foreign minds was that it was an utter impossibility for the
government to win in the contest; that the success of the
Southern States, so far as separation was concerned, was as
certain as any event yet future and contingent could be; that the
subjugation of the South by the North, even if it could be
accomplished, would prove a calamity to the United States and the
world, and especially calamitous to the negro race; and that such
a victory would necessarily leave the people of the South for
many generations cherishing deadly hostility against the
government and the North, and plotting always to recover their

When Lincoln issued his proclamation he knew that all these ideas
were founded in error; that the national resources were
inexhaustible; that the government could and would win, and that
if slavery were once finally disposed of, the only cause of
difference being out of the way, the North and South would come
together again, and by and by be as good friends as ever. In
many quarters abroad the proclamation was welcomed with
enthusiasm by the friends of America; but I think the
demonstrations in its favor that brought more gladness to
Lincoln’s heart than any other were the meetings held in the
manufacturing centres, by the very operatives upon whom the war
bore the hardest, expressing the most enthusiastic sympathy with
the proclamation, while they bore with heroic fortitude the
grievous privations which the war entailed upon them. Mr.
Lincoln’s expectation when he announced to the world that all
slaves in all States then in rebellion were set free must have
been that the avowed position of his government, that the
continuance of the war now meant the annihilation of slavery,
would make intervention impossible for any foreign nation whose
people were lovers of liberty–and so the result proved.

The growth and development of Lincoln’s mental power and moral
force, of his intense and magnetic personality, after the vast
responsibilities of government were thrown upon him at the age of
fifty-two, furnish a rare and striking illustration of the
marvellous capacity and adaptability of the human intellect–of
the sound mind in the sound body. He came to the discharge of
the great duties of the Presidency with absolutely no experience
in the administration of government, or of the vastly varied and
complicated questions of foreign and domestic policy which
immediately arose, and continued to press upon him during the
rest of his life; but he mastered each as it came, apparently
with the facility of a trained and experienced ruler. As
Clarendon said of Cromwell, “His parts seemed to be raised by the
demands of great station.” His life through it all was one of
intense labor, anxiety, and distress, without one hour of
peaceful repose from first to last. But he rose to every
occasion. He led public opinion, but did not march so far in
advance of it as to fail of its effective support in every great
emergency. He knew the heart and thought of the people, as no
man not in constant and absolute sympathy with them could have
known it, and so holding their confidence, he triumphed through
and with them. Not only was there this steady growth of
intellect, but the infinite delicacy of his nature and its
capacity for refinement developed also, as exhibited in the
purity and perfection of his language and style of speech. The
rough backwoodsman, who had never seen the inside of a
university, became in the end, by self-training and the exercise
of his own powers of mind, heart, and soul, a master of style,
and some of his utterances will rank with the best, the most
perfectly adapted to the occasion which produced them.

Have you time to listen to his two-minutes speech at Gettysburg,
at the dedication of the Soldiers’ Cemetery? His whole soul was
in it:

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged
in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation
so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a
great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a
portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here
gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether
fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense
we cannot dedicate–we cannot consecrate–we cannot hallow this
ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have
consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The
world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here but
it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the
living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which
they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is
rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining
before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion
to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of
devotion–that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not
have died in vain–that this nation under God shall have a new
birth of freedom–and that government of the people, by the
people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

He lived to see his work indorsed by an overwhelming majority of
his countrymen. In his second inaugural address, pronounced just
forty days before his death, there is a single passage which well
displays his indomitable will and at the same time his deep
religious feeling, his sublime charity to the enemies of his
country, and his broad and catholic humanity:

“If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those
offences which in the Providence of God must needs come, but
which, having continued through the appointed time, He now wills
to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this
terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came,
shall we discern therein any departure from those divine
attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to
Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty
scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it
continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsmen’s two hundred
and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every
drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid with another
drawn by the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so
still it must be said, ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and
righteous altogether.’

“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in
the right as God gives us to see the right let us strive on to
finish the work we are in to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care
for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his
orphan to do all which may achieve, and cherish a just and
lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.”

His prayer was answered. The forty days of life that remained to
him were crowned with great historic events. He lived to see his
Proclamation of Emancipation embodied in an amendment of the
Constitution, adopted by Congress, and submitted to the States
for ratification. The mighty scourge of war did speedily pass
away, for it was given him to witness the surrender of the Rebel
army and the fall of their capital, and the starry flag that he
loved waving in triumph over the national soil. When he died by
the madman’s hand in the supreme hour of victory, the vanquished
lost their best friend, and the human race one of its noblest
examples; and all the friends of freedom and justice, in whose
cause he lived and died, joined hands as mourners at his grave.





March 9, 1832.

FELLOW CITIZENS:–Having become a candidate for the honorable
office of one of your Representatives in the next General
Assembly of this State, in according with an established custom
and the principles of true Republicanism it becomes my duty to
make known to you, the people whom I propose to represent, my
sentiments with regard to local affairs.

Time and experience have verified to a demonstration the public
utility of internal improvements. That the poorest and most
thinly populated countries would be greatly benefited by the
opening of good roads, and in the clearing of navigable streams
within their limits, is what no person will deny. Yet it is
folly to undertake works of this or any other without first
knowing that we are able to finish them–as half-finished work
generally proves to be labor lost. There cannot justly be any
objection to having railroads and canals, any more than to other
good things, provided they cost nothing. The only objection is
to paying for them; and the objection arises from the want of
ability to pay.

With respect to the County of Sangamon, some….

Yet, however desirable an object the construction of a railroad
through our country may be, however high our imaginations may be
heated at thoughts of it,–there is always a heart-appalling
shock accompanying the amount of its cost, which forces us to
shrink from our pleasing anticipations. The probable cost of
this contemplated railroad is estimated at $290,000; the bare
statement of which, in my opinion, is sufficient to justify the
belief that the improvement of the Sangamon River is an object
much better suited to our infant resources…….

What the cost of this work would be, I am unable to say. It is
probable, however, that it would not be greater than is common to
streams of the same length. Finally, I believe the improvement
of the Sangamon River to be vastly important and highly desirable
to the people of the county; and, if elected, any measure in the
Legislature having this for its object, which may appear
judicious, will meet my approbation and receive my support.

It appears that the practice of loaning money at exorbitant rates
of interest has already been opened as a field for discussion; so
I suppose I may enter upon it without claiming the honor or
risking the danger which may await its first explorer. It seems
as though we are never to have an end to this baneful and
corroding system, acting almost as prejudicially to the general
interests of the community as a direct tax of several thousand
dollars annually laid on each county for the benefit of a few
individuals only, unless there be a law made fixing the limits of
usury. A law for this purpose, I am of opinion, may be made
without materially injuring any class of people. In cases of
extreme necessity, there could always be means found to cheat the
law; while in all other cases it would have its intended effect.
I would favor the passage of a law on this subject which might
not be very easily evaded. Let it be such that the labor and
difficulty of evading it could only be justified in cases of
greatest necessity.

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan
or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the
most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in.
That every man may receive at least a moderate education, and
thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other
countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free
institutions, appears to be an object
of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing
of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being
able to read the Scriptures, and other works both of a religious
and moral nature, for themselves.

For my part, I desire to see the time when education–and by its
means, morality, sobriety, enterprise, and industry–shall become
much more general than at present, and should be gratified to
have it in my power to contribute something to the advancement of
any measure which might have a tendency to accelerate that happy

With regard to existing laws, some alterations are thought to be
necessary. Many respectable men have suggested that our estray
laws, the law respecting the issuing of executions, the road law,
and some others, are deficient in their present form, and require
alterations. But, considering the great probability that the
framers of those laws were wiser than myself, I should prefer not
meddling with them, unless they were first attacked by others; in
which case I should feel it both a privilege and a duty to take
that stand which, in my view, might tend most to the advancement
of justice.

But, fellow-citizens, I shall conclude. Considering the great
degree of modesty which should always attend youth, it is
probable I have already been more presuming than becomes me.
However, upon the subjects of which I have treated, I have spoken
as I have thought. I may be wrong in regard to any or all of
them; but, holding it a sound maxim that it is better only
sometimes to be right than at all times to be wrong, so soon as I
discover my opinions to be erroneous, I shall be ready to
renounce them.

Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. Whether it be
true or not, I can say, for one, that I have no other so great as
that of being truly esteemed of my fellow-men, by rendering
myself worthy of their esteem. How far I shall succeed in
gratifying this ambition is yet to be developed. I am young, and
unknown to many of you. I was born, and have ever remained, in
the most humble walks of life. I have no wealthy or popular
relations or friends to recommend me. My case is thrown
exclusively upon the independent voters of the county; and, if
elected, they will have conferred a favor upon me for which I
shall be unremitting in my labors to compensate. But, if the
good people in their wisdom shall see fit to keep me in the
background, I have been too familiar with disappointments to be
very much chagrined.

Your friend and fellow-citizen,

New Salem, March 9, 1832.



Aug. 10, 1833


Dear Sir:–In regard to the time David Rankin served the enclosed
discharge shows correctly–as well as I can recollect–having no
writing to refer. The transfer of Rankin from my company
occurred as follows: Rankin having lost his horse at Dixon’s
ferry and having acquaintance in one of the foot companies who
were going down the river was desirous to go with them, and one
Galishen being an acquaintance of mine and belonging to the
company in which Rankin wished to go wished to leave it and join
mine, this being the case it was agreed that they should exchange
places and answer to each other’s names–as it was expected we
all would be discharged in very few days. As to a blanket–I
have no knowledge of Rankin ever getting any. The above embraces
all the facts now in my recollection which are pertinent to the

I shall take pleasure in giving any further information in my
power should you call on me.

Your friend,




At your request I send you a receipt for the postage on your
paper. I am somewhat surprised at your request. I will,
however, comply with it. The law requires newspaper postage to
be paid in advance, and now that I have waited a full year you
choose to wound my feelings by insinuating that unless you get a
receipt I will probably make you pay it again.




New Salem, June 13, 1836.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE “JOURNAL”–In your paper of last Saturday I
see a communication, over the signature of “Many Voters,” in
which the candidates who are announced in the Journal are called
upon to “show their hands.” Agreed. Here’s mine.

I go for all sharing the privileges of the government who assist
in bearing its burdens. Consequently, I go for admitting all
whites to the right of suffrage who pay taxes or bear arms (by no
means excluding females).

If elected, I shall consider the whole people of Sangamon my
constituents, as well those that oppose as those that support me.

While acting as their representative, I shall be governed by
their will on all subjects upon which I have the means of knowing
what their will is; and upon all others I shall do what my own
judgment teaches me will best advance their interests. Whether
elected or not, I go for distributing the proceeds of the sales
of the public lands to the several States, to enable our State,
in common with others, to dig canals and construct railroads
without borrowing money and paying the interest on it. If alive
on the first Monday in November, I shall vote for Hugh L. White
for President.

Very respectfully,



New Salem,
June 21, 1836

DEAR COLONEL:–I am told that during my absence last week you
passed through this place, and stated publicly that you were in
possession of a fact or facts which, if known to the public,
would entirely destroy the prospects of N. W. Edwards and
myself at the ensuing election; but that, through favor to us,
you should forbear to divulge them. No one has needed favors
more than I, and, generally, few have been less unwilling to
accept them; but in this case favor to me would be injustice to
the public, and therefore I must beg your pardon for declining
it. That I once had the confidence of the people of Sangamon, is
sufficiently evident; and if I have since done anything, either
by design or misadventure, which if known would subject me to a
forfeiture of that confidence, he that knows of that thing, and
conceals it, is a traitor to his country’s interest.

I find myself wholly unable to form any conjecture of what fact
or facts, real or supposed, you spoke; but my opinion of your
veracity will not permit me for a moment to doubt that you at
least believed what you said. I am flattered with the personal
regard you manifested for me; but I do hope that, on more mature
reflection, you will view the public interest as a paramount
consideration, and therefore determine to let the worst come. I
here assure you that the candid statement of facts on your part,
however low it may sink me, shall never break the tie of personal
friendship between us. I wish an answer to this, and you are at
liberty to publish both, if you choose.

Very respectfully,


December 13, 1836.

MARY:–I have been sick ever since my arrival, or I should have
written sooner. It is but little difference, however, as I have
very little even yet to write. And more, the longer I can avoid
the mortification of looking in the post-office for your letter
and not finding it, the better. You see I am mad about that old
letter yet. I don’t like very well to risk you again. I’ll try
you once more, anyhow.

The new State House is not yet finished, and consequently the
Legislature is doing little or nothing. The governor delivered
an inflammatory political message, and it is expected there will
be some sparring between the parties about it as soon as the two
Houses get to business. Taylor delivered up his petition for the
new county to one of our members this morning. I am told he
despairs of its success, on account of all the members from
Morgan County opposing it. There are names enough on the
petition, I think, to justify the members from our county in
going for it; but if the members from Morgan oppose it, which
they say they will, the chance will be bad.

Our chance to take the seat of government to Springfield is
better than I expected. An internal-improvement convention was
held there since we met, which recommended a loan of several
millions of dollars, on the faith of the State, to construct
railroads. Some of the Legislature are for it, and some against
it; which has the majority I cannot tell. There is great strife
and struggling for the office of the United States Senator here
at this time. It is probable we shall ease their pains in a few
days. The opposition men have no candidate of their own, and
consequently they will smile as complacently at the angry snarl
of the contending Van Buren candidates and their respective
friends as the Christian does at Satan’s rage. You recollect
that I mentioned at the outset of this letter that I had been
unwell. That is the fact, though I believe I am about well now;
but that, with other things I cannot account for, have conspired,
and have gotten my spirits so low that I feel that I would rather
be any place in the world than here. I really cannot endure the
thought of staying here ten weeks. Write back as soon as you get
this, and, if possible, say something that will please me, for
really I have not been pleased since I left you. This letter is
so dry and stupid that I am ashamed to send it, but with my
present feelings I cannot do any better.

Give my best respects to Mr. and Mrs. Able and family.

Your friend,



January [?], 1837

Mr. CHAIRMAN:–Lest I should fall into the too common error of
being mistaken in regard to which side I design to be upon, I
shall make it my first care to remove all doubt on that point, by
declaring that I am opposed to the resolution under
consideration, in toto. Before I proceed to the body of the
subject, I will further remark, that it is not without a
considerable degree of apprehension that I venture to cross the
track of the gentleman from Coles [Mr. Linder]. Indeed, I do not
believe I could muster a sufficiency of courage to come in
contact with that gentleman, were it not for the fact that he,
some days since, most graciously condescended to assure us that
he would never be found wasting ammunition on small game. On the
same fortunate occasion, he further gave us to understand, that
he regarded himself as being decidedly the superior of our common
friend from Randolph [Mr. Shields]; and feeling, as I really do,
that I, to say the most of myself, am nothing more than the peer
of our friend from Randolph, I shall regard the gentleman from
Coles as decidedly my superior also, and consequently, in the
course of what I shall have to say, whenever I shall have
occasion to allude to that gentleman, I shall endeavor to adopt
that kind of court language which I understand to be due to
decided superiority. In one faculty, at least, there can be no
dispute of the gentleman’s superiority over me and most other
men, and that is, the faculty of entangling a subject, so that
neither himself, or any other man, can find head or tail to it.
Here he has introduced a resolution embracing ninety-nine printed
lines across common writing paper, and yet more than one half of
his opening speech has been made upon subjects about which there
is not one word said in his resolution.

Though his resolution embraces nothing in regard to the
constitutionality of the Bank, much of what he has said has been
with a view to make the impression that it was unconstitutional
in its inception. Now, although I am satisfied that an ample
field may be found within the pale of the resolution, at least
for small game, yet, as the gentleman has traveled out of it, I
feel that I may, with all due humility, venture to follow him.
The gentleman has discovered that some gentleman at Washington
city has been upon the very eve of deciding our Bank
unconstitutional, and that he would probably have completed his
very authentic decision, had not some one of the Bank officers
placed his hand upon his mouth, and begged him to withhold it.
The fact that the individuals composing our Supreme Court have,
in an official capacity, decided in favor of the
constitutionality of the Bank, would, in my mind, seem a
sufficient answer to this. It is a fact known to all, that the
members of the Supreme Court, together with the Governor, form a
Council of Revision, and that this Council approved this Bank
charter. I ask, then, if the extra-judicial decision not quite
but almost made by the gentleman at Washington, before whom, by
the way, the question of the constitutionality of our Bank never
has, nor never can come–is to be taken as paramount to a
decision officially made by that tribunal, by which, and which
alone, the constitutionality of the Bank can ever be settled?
But, aside from this view of the subject, I would ask, if the
committee which this resolution proposes to appoint are to
examine into the Constitutionality of the Bank? Are they to be
clothed with power to send for persons and papers, for this
object? And after they have found the bank to be
unconstitutional, and decided it so, how are they to enforce
their decision? What will their decision amount to? They cannot
compel the Bank to cease operations, or to change the course of
its operations. What good, then, can their labors result in?
Certainly none.

The gentleman asks, if we, without an examination, shall, by
giving the State deposits to the Bank, and by taking the stock
reserved for the State, legalize its former misconduct. Now I do
not pretend to possess sufficient legal knowledge to decide
whether a legislative enactment proposing to, and accepting from,
the Bank, certain terms, would have the effect to legalize or
wipe out its former errors, or not; but I can assure the
gentleman, if such should be the effect, he has already got
behind the settlement of accounts; for it is well known to all,
that the Legislature, at its last session, passed a supplemental
Bank charter, which the Bank has since accepted, and which,
according to his doctrine, has legalized all the alleged
violations of its original charter in the distribution of its

I now proceed to the resolution. By examination it will be found
that the first thirty-three lines, being precisely one third of
the whole, relate exclusively to the distribution of the stock by
the commissioners appointed by the State. Now, Sir, it is clear
that no question can arise on this portion of the resolution,
except a question between capitalists in regard to the ownership
of stock. Some gentlemen have their stock in their hands, while
others, who have more money than they know what to do with, want
it; and this, and this alone, is the question, to settle which we
are called on to squander thousands of the people’s money. What
interest, let me ask, have the people in the settlement of this
question? What difference is it to them whether the stock is
owned by Judge Smith or Sam Wiggins? If any gentleman be entitled
to stock in the Bank, which he is kept out of possession of by
others, let him assert his right in the Supreme Court, and let
him or his antagonist, whichever may be found in the wrong, pay
the costs of suit. It is an old maxim, and a very sound one,
that he that dances should always pay the fiddler. Now, Sir, in
the present case, if any gentlemen, whose money is a burden to
them, choose to lead off a dance, I am decidedly opposed to the
people’s money being used to pay the fiddler. No one can doubt
that the examination proposed by this resolution must cost the
State some ten or twelve thousand dollars; and all this to settle
a question in which the people have no interest, and about which
they care nothing. These capitalists generally act harmoniously
and in concert, to fleece the people, and now that they have got
into a quarrel with themselves we are called upon to appropriate
the people’s money to settle the quarrel.

I leave this part of the resolution and proceed to the remainder.
It will be found that no charge in the remaining part of the
resolution, if true, amounts to the violation of the Bank
charter, except one, which I will notice in due time. It might
seem quite sufficient to say no more upon any of these charges or
insinuations than enough to show they are not violations of the
charter; yet, as they are ingeniously framed and handled, with a
view to deceive and mislead, I will notice in their order all the
most prominent of them. The first of these is in relation to a
connection between our Bank and several banking institutions in
other States. Admitting this connection to exist, I should like
to see the gentleman from Coles, or any other gentleman,
undertake to show that there is any harm in it. What can there
be in such a connection, that the people of Illinois are willing
to pay their money to get a peep into? By a reference to the
tenth section of the Bank charter, any gentleman can see that the
framers of the act contemplated the holding of stock in the
institutions of other corporations. Why, then, is it, when
neither law nor justice forbids it, that we are asked to spend
our time and money in inquiring into its truth?

The next charge, in the order of time, is, that some officer,
director, clerk or servant of the Bank, has been required to take
an oath of secrecy in relation to the affairs of said Bank. Now,
I do not know whether this be true or fa1se–neither do I believe
any honest man cares. I know that the seventh section of the
charter expressly guarantees to the Bank the right of making,
under certain restrictions, such by-laws as it may think fit; and
I further know that the requiring an oath of secrecy would not
transcend those restrictions. What, then, if the Bank has chosen
to exercise this right? Whom can it injure? Does not every
merchant have his secret mark? and who is ever silly enough to
complain of it? I presume if the Bank does require any such oath
of secrecy, it is done through a motive of delicacy to those
individuals who deal with it. Why, Sir, not many days since, one
gentleman upon this floor, who, by the way, I have no doubt is
now ready to join this hue and cry against the Bank, indulged in
a philippic against one of the Bank officials, because, as he
said, he had divulged a secret.

Immediately following this last charge, there are several
insinuations in the resolution, which are too silly to require
any sort of notice, were it not for the fact that they conclude
by saying, “to the great injury of the people at large.” In
answer to this I would say that it is strange enough, that the
people are suffering these “great injuries,” and yet are not
sensible of it! Singular indeed that the people should be
writhing under oppression and injury, and yet not one among them
to be found to raise the voice of complaint. If the Bank be
inflicting injury upon the people, why is it that not a single
petition is presented to this body on the subject? If the Bank
really be a grievance, why is it that no one of the real people
is found to ask redress of it? The truth is, no such oppression
exists. If it did, our people would groan with memorials and
petitions, and we would not be permitted to rest day or night,
till we had put it down. The people know their rights, and they
are never slow to assert and maintain them, when they are
invaded. Let them call for an investigation, and I shall ever
stand ready to respond to the call. But they have made no such
call. I make the assertion boldly, and without fear of
contradiction, that no man, who does not hold an office, or does
not aspire to one, has ever found any fault of the Bank. It has
doubled the prices of the products of their farms, and filled
their pockets with a sound circulating medium, and they are all
well pleased with its operations. No, Sir, it is the politician
who is the first to sound the alarm (which, by the way, is a
false one.) It is he, who, by these unholy means, is endeavoring
to blow up a storm that he may ride upon and direct. It is he,
and he alone, that here proposes to spend thousands of the
people’s public treasure, for no other advantage to them than to
make valueless in their pockets the reward of their industry.
Mr. Chairman, this work is exclusively the work of politicians; a
set of men who have interests aside from the interests of the
people, and who, to say the most of them, are, taken as a mass,
at least one long step removed from honest men. I say this with
the greater freedom, because, being a politician myself, none can
regard it as personal.

Again, it is charged, or rather insinuated, that officers of the
Bank have loaned money at usurious rates of interest. Suppose
this to be true, are we to send a committee of this House to
inquire into it? Suppose the committee should find it true, can
they redress the injured individuals? Assuredly not. If any
individual had been injured in this way, is there not an ample
remedy to be found in the laws of the land? Does the gentleman
from Coles know that there is a statute standing in full force
making it highly penal for an individual to loan money at a
higher rate of interest than twelve per cent? If he does not he
is too ignorant to be placed at the head of the committee which
his resolution purposes and if he does, his neglect to mention it
shows him to be too uncandid to merit the respect or confidence
of any one.

But besides all this, if the Bank were struck from existence,
could not the owners of the capital still loan it usuriously, as
well as now? whatever the Bank, or its officers, may have done, I
know that usurious transactions were much more frequent and
enormous before the commencement of its operations than they have
ever been since.

The next insinuation is, that the Bank has refused specie
payments. This, if true is a violation of the charter. But
there is not the least probability of its truth; because, if such
had been the fact, the individual to whom payment was refused
would have had an interest in making it public, by suing for the
damages to which the charter entitles him. Yet no such thing has
been done; and the strong presumption is, that the insinuation is
false and groundless.

>From this to the end of the resolution, there is nothing that
merits attention–I therefore drop the particular examination of

By a general view of the resolution, it will be seen that a
principal object of the committee is to examine into, and ferret
out, a mass of corruption supposed to have been committed by the
commissioners who apportioned the stock of the Bank. I believe
it is universally understood and acknowledged that all men will
ever act correctly unless they have a motive to do otherwise. If
this be true, we can only suppose that the commissioners acted
corruptly by also supposing that they were bribed to do so.
Taking this view of the subject, I would ask if the Bank is
likely to find it more difficult to bribe the committee of seven,
which, we are about to appoint, than it may have found it to
bribe the commissioners?

(Here Mr. Linder called to order. The Chair decided that Mr.
Lincoln was not out of order. Mr. Linder appealed to the House,
but, before the question was put, withdrew his appeal, saying he
preferred to let the gentleman go on; he thought he would break
his own neck. Mr. Lincoln proceeded:)

Another gracious condescension! I acknowledge it with gratitude.
I know I was not out of order; and I know every sensible man in
the House knows it. I was not saying that the gentleman from
Coles could be bribed, nor, on the other hand, will I say he
could not. In that particular I leave him where I found him. I
was only endeavoring to show that there was at least as great a
probability of any seven members that could be selected from this
House being bribed to act corruptly, as there was that the
twenty-four commissioners had been so bribed. By a reference to
the ninth section of the Bank charter, it will be seen that those
commissioners were John Tilson, Robert K. McLaughlin, Daniel
Warm, A.G. S. Wight, John C. Riley, W. H. Davidson, Edward
M. Wilson, Edward L. Pierson, Robert R. Green, Ezra Baker,
Aquilla Wren, John Taylor, Samuel C. Christy, Edmund Roberts,
Benjamin Godfrey, Thomas Mather, A. M. Jenkins, W. Linn, W.
S. Gilman, Charles Prentice, Richard I. Hamilton, A.H.
Buckner, W. F. Thornton, and Edmund D. Taylor.

These are twenty-four of the most respectable men in the State.
Probably no twenty-four men could be selected in the State with
whom the people are better acquainted, or in whose honor and
integrity they would more readily place confidence. And I now
repeat, that there is less probability that those men have been
bribed and corrupted, than that any seven men, or rather any six
men, that could be selected from the members of this House, might
be so bribed and corrupted, even though they were headed and led
on by “decided superiority” himself.

In all seriousness, I ask every reasonable man, if an issue be
joined by these twenty-four commissioners, on the one part, and
any other seven men, on the other part, and the whole depend upon
the honor and integrity of the contending parties, to which party
would the greatest degree of credit be due? Again: Another
consideration is, that we have no right to make the examination.
What I shall say upon this head I design exclusively for the law-
loving and law-abiding part of the House. To those who claim
omnipotence for the Legislature, and who in the plenitude of
their assumed powers are disposed to disregard the Constitution,
law, good faith, moral right, and everything else, I have not a
word to say. But to the law-abiding part I say, examine the Bank
charter, go examine the Constitution, go examine the acts that
the General Assembly of this State has passed, and you will find
just as much authority given in each and every of them to compel
the Bank to bring its coffers to this hall and to pour their
contents upon this floor, as to compel it to submit to this
examination which this resolution proposes. Why, Sir, the
gentleman from Co1es, the mover of this resolution, very lately
denied on this floor that the Legislature had any right to repeal
or otherwise meddle with its own acts, when those acts were made
in the nature of contracts, and had been accepted and acted on by
other parties. Now I ask if this resolution does not propose,
for this House alone, to do what he, but the other day, denied
the right of the whole Legislature to do? He must either abandon
the position he then took, or he must now vote against his own
resolution. It is no difference to me, and I presume but little
to any one else, which he does.

I am by no means the special advocate of the Bank. I have long
thought that it would be well for it to report its condition to
the General Assembly, and that cases might occur, when it might
be proper to make an examination of its affairs by a committee.
Accordingly, during the last session, while a bill supplemental
to the Bank charter was pending before the House, I offered an
amendment to the same, in these words: “The said corporation
shall, at the next session of the General Assembly, and at each
subsequent General Session, during the existence of its charter,
report to the same the amount of debts due from said corporation;
the amount of debts due to the same; the amount of specie in its
vaults, and an account of all lands then owned by the same, and
the amount for which such lands have been taken; and moreover, if
said corporation shall at any time neglect or refuse to submit
its books, papers, and all and everything necessary for a full
and fair examination of its affairs, to any person or persons
appointed by the General Assembly, for the purpose of making such
examination, the said corporation shall forfeit its charter.”

This amendment was negatived by a vote of 34 to 15. Eleven of
the 34 who voted against it are now members of this House; and
though it would be out of order to call their names, I hope they
will all recollect themselves, and not vote for this examination
to be made without authority, inasmuch as they refused to receive
the authority when it was in their power to do so.

I have said that cases might occur, when an examination might be
proper; but I do not believe any such case has now occurred; and
if it has, I should still be opposed to making an examination
without legal authority. I am opposed to encouraging that
lawless and mobocratic spirit, whether in relation to the Bank or
anything else, which is already abroad in the land and is
spreading with rapid and fearful impetuosity, to the ultimate
overthrow of every institution, of every moral principle, in
which persons and property have hitherto found security.

But supposing we had the authority, I would ask what good can
result from the examination? Can we declare the Bank
unconstitutional, and compel it to desist from the abuses of its
power, provided we find such abuses to exist? Can we repair the
injuries which it may have done to individuals? Most certainly we
can do none of these things. Why then
shall we spend the public money in such employment? Oh, say the
examiners, we can injure the credit of the Bank, if nothing else,
Please tell me, gentlemen, who will suffer most by that? You
cannot injure, to any extent, the stockholders. They are men of
wealth–of large capital; and consequently, beyond the power of
malice. But by injuring the credit of the Bank, you will
depreciate the value of its paper in the hands of the honest and
unsuspecting farmer and mechanic, and that is all you can do.
But suppose you could effect your whole purpose; suppose you
could wipe the Bank from existence, which is the grand ultimatum
of the project, what would be the consequence? why, Sir, we
should spend several thousand dollars of the public treasure in
the operation, annihilate the currency of the State, render
valueless in the hands of our people that reward of their former
labors, and finally be once more under the comfortable obligation
of paying the Wiggins loan, principal and interest.



January 27, 1837.

As a subject for the remarks of the evening, “The Perpetuation of
our Political Institutions “is selected.

In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the
American people, find our account running under date of the
nineteenth century of the Christian era. We find ourselves in
the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth as
regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of
climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of
political institutions conducing more essentially to the ends of
civil and religious liberty than any of which the history of
former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence,
found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental
blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of
them; they are a legacy bequeathed us by a once hardy, brave, and
patriotic, but now lamented and departed, race of ancestors.
Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess
themselves, and through themselves us, of this goodly land, and
to uprear upon its hills and its valleys a political edifice of
liberty and equal rights; it is ours only to transmit these–the
former unprofaned by the foot of an invader, the latter undecayed
by the lapse of time and untorn by usurpation–to the latest
generation that fate shall permit the world to know. This task
gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to
posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively
require us faithfully to perform.

How then shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the
approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it?
Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the
ocean and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe,
Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth
(our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for
a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or
make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I
answer: If it ever reach us it must spring up amongst us; it
cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot we must
ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we
must live through all time, or die by suicide.

I hope I am over-wary; but if I am not, there is even now
something of ill omen amongst us. I mean the increasing
disregard for law which pervades the country–the growing
disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions in lieu
of the sober judgment of courts, and the worse than savage mobs
for the executive ministers of justice. This disposition is
awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours,
though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation
of truth and an insult to our intelligence to deny. Accounts of
outrages committed by mobs form the everyday news of the times.
They have pervaded the country from New England to Louisiana;
they are neither peculiar to the eternal snows of the former nor
the burning suns of the latter; they are not the creature of
climate, neither are they confined to the slave holding or the
non-slave holding States. Alike they spring up among the
pleasure-hunting masters of Southern slaves, and the order-loving
citizens of the land of steady habits. Whatever then their cause
may be, it is common to the whole country.

It would be tedious as well as useless to recount the horrors of
all of them. Those happening in the State of Mississippi and at
St. Louis are perhaps the most dangerous in example and
revolting to humanity. In the Mississippi case they first
commenced by hanging the regular gamblers–a set of men certainly
not following for a livelihood a very useful or very honest
occupation, but one which, so far from being forbidden by the
laws, was actually licensed by an act of the Legislature passed
but a single year before. Next, negroes suspected of conspiring
to raise an insurrection were caught up and hanged in all parts
of the State; then, white men supposed to be leagued with the
negroes; and finally, strangers from neighboring States, going
thither on business, were in many instances subjected to the same
fate. Thus went on this process of hanging, from gamblers to
negroes, from negroes to white citizens, and from these to
strangers, till dead men were seen literally dangling from the
boughs of trees upon every roadside, and in numbers almost
sufficient to rival the native Spanish moss of the country as a
drapery of the forest.

Turn then to that horror-striking scene at St. Louis. A single
victim only was sacrificed there. This story is very short, and
is perhaps the most highly tragic of anything of its length that
has ever been witnessed in real life. A mulatto man by the name
of McIntosh was seized in the street, dragged to the suburbs of
the city, chained to a tree, and actually burned to death; and
all within a single hour from the time he had been a freeman
attending to his own business and at peace with the world.

Such are the effects of mob law, and such are the scenes becoming
more and more frequent in this land so lately famed for love of
law and order, and the stories of which have even now grown too
familiar to attract anything more than an idle remark.

But you are perhaps ready to ask, “What has this to do with the
perpetuation of our political institutions?” I answer, It has
much to do with it. Its direct consequences are, comparatively
speaking, but a small evil, and much of its danger consists in
the proneness of our minds to regard its direct as its only
consequences. Abstractly considered, the hanging of the gamblers
at Vicksburg was of but little consequence. They constitute a
portion of population that is worse than useless in any
community; and their death, if no pernicious example be set by
it, is never matter of reasonable regret with any one. If they
were annually swept from the stage of existence by the plague or
smallpox, honest men would perhaps be much profited by the
operation. Similar too is the correct reasoning in regard to the
burning of the negro at St. Louis. He had forfeited his life by
the perpetration of an outrageous murder upon one of the most
worthy and respectable citizens of the city, and had he not died
as he did, he must have died by the sentence of the law in a very
short time afterwards. As to him alone, it was as well the way
it was as it could otherwise have been. But the example in
either case was fearful. When men take it in their heads to-day
to hang gamblers or burn murderers, they should recollect that in
the confusion usually attending such transactions they will be as
likely to hang or burn some one who is neither a gambler nor a
murderer as one who is, and that, acting upon the example they
set, the mob of to-morrow may, and probably will, hang or burn
some of them by the very same mistake. And not only so: the
innocent, those who have ever set their faces against violations
of law in every shape, alike with the guilty fall victims to the
ravages of mob law; and thus it goes on, step by step, till all
the walls erected for the defense of the persons and property of
individuals are trodden down and disregarded. But all this,
even, is not the full extent of the evil. By such examples, by
instances of the perpetrators of such acts going unpunished, the
lawless in spirit are encouraged to become lawless in practice;
and having been used to no restraint but dread of punishment,
they thus become absolutely unrestrained. Having ever regarded
government as their deadliest bane, they make a jubilee of the
suspension of its operations, and pray for nothing so much as its
total annihilation. While, on the other hand, good men, men who
love tranquillity, who desire to abide by the laws and enjoy
their benefits, who would gladly spill their blood in the defense
of their country, seeing their property destroyed, their families
insulted, and their lives endangered, their persons injured, and
seeing nothing in prospect that forebodes a change for the
better, become tired of and disgusted with a government that
offers them no protection, and are not much averse to a change in
which they imagine they have nothing to lose. Thus, then, by the
operation of this mobocratic spirit which all must admit is now
abroad in the land, the strongest bulwark of any government, and
particularly of those constituted like ours, may effectually be
broken down and destroyed–I mean the attachment of the people.
Whenever this effect shall be produced among us; whenever the
vicious portion of population shall be permitted to gather in
bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and
rob provision-stores, throw printing presses into rivers, shoot
editors, and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure and with
impunity, depend on it, this government cannot last. By such
things the feelings of the best citizens will become more or less
alienated from it, and thus it will be left without friends, or
with too few, and those few too weak to make their friendship
effectual. At such a time, and under such circumstances, men of
sufficient talent and ambition will not be wanting to seize the
opportunity, strike the blow, and overturn that fair fabric which
for the last half century has been the fondest hope of the lovers
of freedom throughout the world.

I know the American people are much attached to their government;
I know they would suffer much for its sake; I know they would
endure evils long and patiently before they would ever think of
exchanging it for another,–yet, notwithstanding all this, if the
laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to
be secure in their persons and property are held by no better
tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their
affections from the government is the natural consequence; and to
that, sooner or later, it must come.

Here, then, is one point at which danger may be expected.

The question recurs, How shall we fortify against it? The answer
is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every
well-wisher to his posterity swear by the blood of the Revolution
never to violate in the least particular the laws of the country,
and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots
of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of
Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and laws let
every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred
honor. Let every man remember that to violate the law is to
trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of
his own and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the laws
be breathed by every American mother to the lisping babe that
prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries,
and in colleges; let it be written in primers, spelling books,
and in almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed
in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in
short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and
let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and
the gay of all sexes and tongues and colors and conditions,
sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling such as this shall universally or
even very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be
every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our
national freedom.

When, I so pressingly urge a strict observance of all the laws,
let me not be understood as saying there are no bad laws, or that
grievances may not arise for the redress of which no legal
provisions have been made. I mean to say no such thing. But I
do mean to say that although bad laws, if they exist, should be
repealed as soon as possible, still, while they continue in
force, for the sake of example they should be religiously
observed. So also in unprovided cases. If such arise, let
proper legal provisions be made for them with the least possible
delay, but till then let them, if not too intolerable, be borne

There is no grievance that is a fit object of redress by mob law.
In any case that may arise, as, for instance, the promulgation of
abolitionism, one of two positions is necessarily true–that is,
the thing is right within itself, and therefore deserves the
protection of all law and all good citizens, or it is wrong, and
therefore proper to be prohibited by legal enactments; and in
neither case is the interposition of mob law either necessary,
justifiable, or excusable.

But it may be asked, Why suppose danger to our political
institutions? Have we not preserved them for more than fifty
years? And why may we not for fifty times as long?

We hope there is no sufficient reason. We hope all danger may be
overcome; but to conclude that no danger may ever arise would
itself be extremely dangerous. There are now, and will hereafter
be, many causes, dangerous in their tendency, which have not
existed heretofore, and which are not too insignificant to merit
attention. That our government should have been maintained in
its original form, from its establishment until now, is not much
to be wondered at. It had many props to support it through that
period, which now are decayed and crumbled away. Through that
period it was felt by all to be an undecided experiment; now it
is understood to be a successful one. Then, all that sought
celebrity and fame and distinction expected to find them in the
success of that experiment. Their all was staked upon it; their
destiny was inseparably linked with it. Their ambition aspired
to display before an admiring world a practical demonstration of
the truth of a proposition which had hitherto been considered at
best no better than problematical–namely, the capability of a
people to govern themselves. If they succeeded they were to be
immortalized; their names were to be transferred to counties, and
cities, and rivers, and mountains; and to be revered and sung,
toasted through all time. If they failed, they were to be called
knaves) and fools, and fanatics for a fleeting hour; then to sink
and be forgotten. They succeeded. The experiment is successful,
and thousands have won their deathless names in making it so.
But the game is caught; and I believe it is true that with the
catching end the pleasures of the chase. This field of glory is
harvested, and the crop is already appropriated. But new reapers
will arise, and they too will seek a field. It is to deny what
the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of
ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us.
And when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification
of their ruling passion as others have done before them. The
question then is, Can that gratification be found in supporting
and in maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others?
Most certainly it cannot. Many great and good men, sufficiently
qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found
whose ambition would aspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress,
a Gubernatorial or a Presidential chair; but such belong not to
the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle. What! think
you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a
Napoleon? Never! Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It
seeks regions hitherto unexplored. It sees no distinction in
adding story to story upon the monuments of fame erected to the
memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve
under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any
predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for
distinction; and if possible, it will have it, whether at the
expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving freemen. Is it
unreasonable, then, to expect that some man possessed of the
loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to
its utmost stretch, will at some time spring up among us? And
when such an one does it will require the people to be united
with each other, attached to the government and laws, and
generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs.

Distinction will be his paramount object, and although he would
as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm,
yet, that opportunity being past, and nothing left to be done in
the way of building up, he would set boldly to the task of
pulling down.

Here then is a probable case, highly dangerous, and such an one
as could not have well existed heretofore.

Another reason which once was, but which, to the same extent, is
now no more, has done much in maintaining our institutions thus
far. I mean the powerful influence which the interesting scenes
of the Revolution had upon the passions of the people as
distinguished from their judgment. By this influence, the
jealousy, envy, and avarice incident to our nature, and so common
to a state of peace, prosperity, and conscious strength, were for
the time in a great measure smothered and rendered inactive,
while the deep-rooted principles of hate, and the powerful motive
of revenge, instead of being turned against each other, were
directed exclusively against the British nation. And thus, from
the force of circumstances, the basest principles of our nature
were either made to lie dormant, or to become the active agents
in the advancement of the noblest of causes–that of establishing
and maintaining civil and religious liberty.

But this state of feeling must fade, is fading, has faded, with
the circumstances that produced it.

I do not mean to say that the scenes of the Revolution are now or
ever will be entirely forgotten, but that, like everything else,
they must fade upon the memory of the world, and grow more and
more dim by the lapse of time. In history, we hope, they will be
read of, and recounted, so long as the Bible shall be read; but
even granting that they will, their influence cannot be what it
heretofore has been. Even then they cannot be so universally
known nor so vividly felt as they were by the generation just
gone to rest. At the close of that struggle, nearly every adult
male had been a participator in some of its scenes. The
consequence was that of those scenes, in the form of a husband, a
father, a son, or a brother, a living history was to be found in
every family–a history bearing the indubitable testimonies of
its own authenticity, in the limbs mangled, in the scars of
wounds received, in the midst of the very scenes related–a
history, too, that could be read and understood alike by all, the
wise and the ignorant, the learned and the unlearned. But those
histories are gone. They can be read no more forever. They were
a fortress of strength; but what invading foeman could never do
the silent artillery of time has done–the leveling of its walls.
They are gone. They were a forest of giant oaks; but the all-
restless hurricane has swept over them, and left only here and
there a lonely trunk, despoiled of its verdure, shorn of its
foliage, unshading and unshaded, to murmur in a few more gentle
breezes, and to combat with its mutilated limbs a few more ruder
storms, then to sink and be no more.

They were pillars of the temple of liberty; and now that they
have crumbled away that temple must fall unless we, their
descendants, supply their places with other pillars, hewn from
the solid quarry of sober reason. Passion has helped us, but can
do so no more. It will in future be our enemy. Reason cold,
calculating, unimpassioned reason–must furnish all the materials
for our future support and defense. Let those materials be
moulded into general intelligence, sound morality, and in
particular, a reverence for the Constitution and laws; and that
we improved to the last, that we remained free to the last, that
we revered his name to the last, that during his long sleep we
permitted no hostile foot to pass over or desecrate his resting
place, shall be that which to learn the last trump shall awaken
our Washington.

Upon these let the proud fabric of freedom rest, as the rock of
its basis; and as truly as has been said of the only greater
institution, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”


March 3, 1837.

The following protest was presented to the House, which was read
and ordered to be spread in the journals, to wit:

“Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed
both branches of the General Assembly at its present session, the
undersigned hereby protest against the passage of the same.

“They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both
injustice and bad policy, but that the promulgation of abolition
doctrines tends rather to increase than abate its evils.

“They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power
under the Constitution to interfere with the institution of
slavery in the different States.

“They believe that the Congress of the United States has the
power, under the Constitution, to abolish slavery in the District
of Columbia, but that the power ought not to be exercised, unless
at the request of the people of the District.

“The difference between these opinions and those contained in the
said resolutions is their reason for entering this protest.

“Representatives from the County of Sangamon.”


SPRINGFIELD, May 7, 1837.


FRIEND MARY:–I have commenced two letters to send you before
this, both of which displeased me before I got half done, and so
I tore them up. The first I thought was not serious enough, and
the second was on the other extreme. I shall send this, turn out
as it may.

This thing of living in Springfield is rather a dull business,
after all; at least it is so to me. I am quite as lonesome here
as I ever was anywhere in my life. I have been spoken to by but
one woman since I have been here, and should not have been by her
if she could have avoided it. I ‘ve never been to church yet,
and probably shall not be soon. I stay away because I am
conscious I should not know how to behave myself.

I am often thinking of what we said about your coming to live at
Springfield. I am afraid you would not be satisfied. There is a
great deal of flourishing about in carriages here, which it would
be your doom to see without sharing it. You would have to be
poor, without the means of hiding your poverty. Do you believe
you could bear that patiently? Whatever woman may cast her lot
with mine, should any ever do so, it is my intention to do all in
my power to make her happy and contented; and there is nothing I
can imagine that would make me more unhappy than to fail in the
effort. I know I should be much happier with you than the way I
am, provided I saw no signs of discontent in you. What you have
said to me may have been in the way of jest, or I may have
misunderstood you. If so, then let it be forgotten; if
otherwise, I much wish you would think seriously before you
decide. What I have said I will most positively abide by,
provided you wish it. My opinion is that you had better not do
it. You have not been accustomed to hardship, and it may be more
severe than you now imagine. I know you are capable of thinking
correctly on any subject, and if you deliberate maturely upon
this subject before you decide, then I am willing to abide your

You must write me a good long letter after you get this. You
have nothing else to do, and though it might not seem interesting
to you after you had written it, it would be a good deal of
company to me in this “busy wilderness.” Tell your sister I don’t
want to hear any more about selling out and moving. That gives
me the “hypo” whenever I think of it. Yours, etc.,



SPRINGFIELD, ILL., Aug. 5, 1837.


DEAR SIR:-Mr. Edwards tells me you wish to know whether the act
to which your own incorporation provision was attached passed
into a law. It did. You can organize under the general
incorporation law as soon as you choose.

I also tacked a provision onto a fellow’s bill to authorize the
relocation of the road from Salem down to your town, but I am not
certain whether or not the bill passed, neither do I suppose I
can ascertain before the law will be published, if it is a law.
Bowling Greene, Bennette Abe? and yourself are appointed to make
the change. No news. No excitement except a little about the
election of Monday next.

I suppose, of course, our friend Dr. Heney stands no chance in
your diggings.

Your friend and humble servant,



Aug. 16, 1837

You will no doubt think it rather strange that I should write you
a letter on the same day on which we parted, and I can only
account for it by supposing that seeing you lately makes me think
of you more than usual; while at our late meeting we had but few
expressions of thoughts. You must know that I cannot see you, or
think of you, with entire indifference; and yet it may be that
you are mistaken in regard to what my real feelings toward you

If I knew you were not, I should not have troubled you with this
letter. Perhaps any other man would know enough without
information; but I consider it my peculiar right to plead
ignorance, and your bounden duty to allow the plea.

I want in all cases to do right; and most particularly so in all
cases with women.

I want, at this particular time, more than any thing else to do
right with you; and if I knew it would be doing right, as I
rather suspect it would, to let you alone I would do it. And,
for the purpose of making the matter as plain as possible, I now
say that you can drop the subject, dismiss your thoughts (if you
ever had any) from me for ever and leave this letter unanswered
without calling forth one accusing murmur from me. And I will
even go further and say that, if it will add anything to your
comfort or peace of mind to do so, it is my sincere wish that you
should. Do not understand by this that I wish to cut your
acquaintance. I mean no such thing. What I do wish is that our
further acquaintance shall depend upon yourself. If such further
acquaintance would contribute nothing to your happiness, I am
sure it would not to mine. If you feel yourself in any degree
bound to me, I am now willing to release you, provided you wish
it; while on the other hand I am willing and even anxious to bind
you faster if I can be convinced that it will, in any
considerable degree, add to your happiness. This, indeed, is the
whole question with me. Nothing would make me more miserable
than to believe you miserable, nothing more happy than to know
you were so.

In what I have now said, I think I cannot be misunderstood; and
to make myself understood is the only object of this letter.

If it suits you best not to answer this, farewell. A long life
and a merry one attend you. But, if you conclude to write back,
speak as plainly as I do. There can neither be harm nor danger
in saying to me anything you think, just in the manner you think
it. My respects to your sister.

Your friend,




Aug. 19, 1837.

In accordance with our determination, as expressed last week, we
present to the reader the articles which were published in hand-
bill form, in reference to the case of the heirs of Joseph
Anderson vs. James Adams. These articles can now be read
uninfluenced by personal or party feeling, and with the sole
motive of learning the truth. When that is done, the reader can
pass his own judgment on the matters at issue.

We only regret in this case, that the publications were not made
some weeks before the election. Such a course might have
prevented the expressions of regret, which have often been heard
since, from different individuals, on account of the disposition
they made of their votes.

To the Public:

It is well known to most of you, that there is existing at this
time considerable excitement in regard to Gen. Adams’s titles to
certain tracts of land, and the manner in which he acquired them.
As I understand, the Gen. charges that the whole has been gotten
up by a knot of lawyers to injure his election; and as I am one
of the knot to which he refers, and as I happen to be in
possession of facts connected with the matter, I will, in as
brief a manner as possible, make a statement of them, together
with the means by which I arrived at the know1edge of them.

Sometime in May or June last, a widow woman, by the name of
Anderson, and her son, who resides in Fulton county, came to
Springfield, for the purpose as they said of selling a ten acre
lot of ground lying near town, which they claimed as the property
of the deceased husband and father.

When they reached town they found the land was c1aimed by Gen.
Adams. John T. Stuart and myself were employed to look into the
matter, and if it was thought we could do so with any prospect of
success, to commence a suit for the land. I went immediately to
the recorder’s office to examine Adams’s title, and found that
the land had been entered by one Dixon, deeded by Dixon to
Thomas, by Thomas to one Miller, and by Miller to Gen. Adams.
The oldest of these three deeds was about ten or eleven years
old, and the latest more than five, all recorded at the same
time, and that within less than one year. This I thought a
suspicious circumstance, and I was thereby induced to examine the
deeds very closely, with a view to the discovery of some defect
by which to overturn the title, being almost convinced then it
was founded in fraud. I discovered that in the deed from Thomas
to Miller, although Miller’s name stood in a sort of marginal
note on the record book, it was nowhere in the deed itself. I
told the fact to Talbott, the recorder, and proposed to him that
he should go to Gen. Adams’s and get the original deed, and
compare it with the record, and thereby ascertain whether the
defect was in the original or there was merely an error in the
recording. As Talbott afterwards told me, he went to the
General’s, but not finding him at home, got the deed from his
son, which, when compared with the record, proved what we had
discovered was merely an error of the recorder. After Mr.
Talbott corrected the record, be brought the original to our
office, as I then thought and think yet, to show us that it was
right. When he came into the room he handed the deed to me,
remarking that the fault was all his own. On opening it, another
paper fell out of it, which on examination proved to be an
assignment of a judgment in the Circuit Court of Sangamon County
from Joseph Anderson, the late husband of the widow above named,
to James Adams, the judgment being in favor of said Anderson
against one Joseph Miller. Knowing that this judgment had some
connection with the land affair, I immediately took a copy of it,
which is word for word, letter for letter and cross for cross as

“Joseph Anderson,
Joseph Miller.

Judgment in Sangamon Circuit Court against Joseph Miller obtained
on a note originally 25 dolls and interest thereon accrued.
I assign all my right, title and interest to James Adams which is
in consideration of a debt I owe said Adams.


As the copy shows, it bore date May 10, 1827; although the
judgment assigned by it was not obtained until the October
afterwards, as may be seen by any one on the records of the
Circuit Court. Two other strange circumstances attended it which
cannot be represented by a copy. One of them was, that the date
“1827” had first been made “1837” and, without the figure “3,”
being fully obliterated, the figure “2” had afterwards been made
on top of it; the other was that, although the date was ten years
old, the writing on it, from the freshness of its appearance, was
thought by many, and I believe by all who saw it, not to be more
than a week old. The paper on which it was written had a very
old appearance; and there were some old figures on the back of it
which made the freshness of the writing on the face of it much
more striking than I suppose it otherwise might have been. The
reader’s curiosity is no doubt excited to know what connection
this assignment had with the land in question. The story is
this: Dixon sold and deeded the land to Thomas; Thomas sold it to
Anderson; but before he gave a deed, Anderson sold it to Miller,
and took Miller’s note for the purchase money. When this note
became due, Anderson sued Miller on it, and Miller procured an
injunction from the Court of Chancery to stay the collection of
the money until he should get a deed for the land. Gen. Adams
was employed as an attorney by Anderson in this chancery suit,
and at the October term, 1827, the injunction was dissolved, and
a judgment given in favor of Anderson against Miller; and it was
provided that Thomas was to execute a deed for the land in favor
of Miller and deliver it to Gen. Adams, to be held up by him till
Miller paid the judgment, and then to deliver it to him. Miller
left the county without paying the judgment. Anderson moved to
Fulton county, where he has since died When the widow came to
Springfield last May or June, as before mentioned, and found the
land deeded to Gen. Adams by Miller, she was naturally led to
inquire why the money due upon the judgment had not been sent to
them, inasmuch as he, Gen. Adams, had no authority to deliver
Thomas’s deed to Miller until the money was paid. Then it was
the General told her, or perhaps her son, who came with her, that
Anderson, in his lifetime, had assigned the judgment to him, Gen.
Adams. I am now told that the General is exhibiting an
assignment of the same judgment bearing date “1828” and in other
respects differing from the one described; and that he is
asserting that no such assignment as the one copied by me ever
existed; or if there did, it was forged between Talbott and the
lawyers, and slipped into his papers for the purpose of injuring
him. Now, I can only say that I know precisely such a one did
exist, and that Ben. Talbott, Wm. Butler, C.R. Matheny, John
T. Stuart, Judge Logan, Robert Irwin, P. C. Canedy and S. M.
Tinsley, all saw and examined it, and that at least one half of
them will swear that IT WAS IN GENERAL ADAMS’S HANDWRITING !! And
further, I know that Talbott will swear that he got it out of the
General’s possession, and returned it into his possession again.
The assignment which the General is now exhibiting purports to
have been by Anderson in writing. The one I copied was signed
with a cross.

I am told that Gen. Neale says that he will swear that he heard
Gen. Adams tell young Anderson that the assignment made by his
father was signed with a cross.

The above are ‘facts, as stated. I leave them without comment.
I have given the names of persons who have knowledge of these
facts, in order that any one who chooses may call on them and
ascertain how far they will corroborate my statements. I have
only made these statements because I am known by many to be one
of the individuals against whom the charge of forging the
assignment and slipping it into the General’s papers has been
made, and because our silence might be construed into a
confession of its truth. I shall not subscribe my name; but I
hereby authorize the editor of the Journal to give it up to any
one that may call for it.”



In the Republican of this morning a publication of Gen. Adams’s
appears, in which my name is used quite unreservedly. For this I
thank the General. I thank him because it gives me an
opportunity, without appearing obtrusive, of explaining a part of
a former publication of mine, which appears to me to have been
misunderstood by many.

In the former publication alluded to, I stated, in substance,
that Mr. Talbott got a deed from a son of Gen. Adams’s for the
purpose of correcting a mistake that had occurred on the record
of the said deed in the recorder’s office; that he corrected the
record, and brought the deed and handed it to me, and that on
opening the deed, another paper, being the assignment of a
judgment, fell out of it. This statement Gen. Adams and the
editor of the Republican have seized upon as a most palpable
evidence of fabrication and falsehood. They set themselves
gravely about proving that the assignment could not have been in
the deed when Talbott got it from young Adams, as he, Talbott,
would have seen it when he opened the deed to correct the record.
Now, the truth is, Talbott did see the assignment when he opened
the deed, or at least he told me he did on the same day; and I
only omitted to say so, in my former publication, because it was
a matter of such palpable and necessary inference. I had stated
that Talbott had corrected the record by the deed; and of course
he must have opened it; and, just as the General and his friends
argue, must have seen the assignment. I omitted to state the
fact of Talbott’s seeing the assignment, because its existence
was so necessarily connected with other facts which I did state,
that I thought the greatest dunce could not but understand it.
Did I say Talbott had not seen it? Did I say anything that was
inconsistent with his having seen it before? Most certainly I did
neither; and if I did not, what becomes of the argument? These
logical gentlemen can sustain their argument only by assuming
that I did say negatively everything that I did not say
affirmatively; and upon the same assumption, we may expect to
find the General, if a little harder pressed for argument, saying
that I said Talbott came to our office with his head downward,
not that I actually said so, but because I omitted to say he came
feet downward.

In his publication to-day, the General produces the affidavit of
Reuben Radford, in which it is said that Talbott told Radford
that he did not find the assignment in the deed, in the recording
of which the error was committed, but that he found it wrapped in
another paper in the recorder’s office, upon which statement the
Genl. comments as follows, to wit:
“If it be true as stated by Talbott to Radford, that he found the
assignment wrapped up in another paper at his office, that
contradicts the statement of Lincoln that it fell out of the

Is common sense to be abused with such sophistry? Did I say what
Talbott found it in? If Talbott did find it in another paper at
his office, is that any reason why he could not have folded it in
a deed and brought it to my office? Can any one be so far duped
as to be made believe that what may have happened at Talbot’s
office at one time is inconsistent with what happened at my
office at another time?

Now Talbott’s statement of the case as he makes it to me is this,
that he got a bunch of deeds from young Adams, and that he knows
he found the assignment in the bunch, but he is not certain which
particular deed it was in, nor is he certain whether it was
folded in the same deed out of which it was taken, or another
one, when it was brought to my office. Is this a mysterious
story? Is there anything suspicious about it?

“But it is useless to dwell longer on this point. Any man who is
not wilfully blind can see at a flash, that there is no
discrepancy, and Lincoln has shown that they are not only
inconsistent with truth, but each other”–I can only say, that I
have shown that he has done no such thing; and if the reader is
disposed to require any other evidence than the General’s
assertion, he will be of my opinion.

Excepting the General’s most flimsy attempt at mystification, in
regard to a discrepance between Talbott and myself, he has not
denied a single statement that I made in my hand-bill. Every
material statement that I made has been sworn to by men who, in
former times, were thought as respectable as General Adams. I
stated that an assignment of a judgment, a copy of which I gave,
had existed–Benj. Talbott, C. R. Matheny, Wm. Butler, and
Judge Logan swore to its existence. I stated that it was said to
be in Gen. Adams’s handwriting–the same men swore it was in his
handwriting. I stated that Talbott would swear that he got it
out of Gen. Adams’s possession–Talbott came forward and did
swear it.

Bidding adieu to the former publication, I now propose to examine
the General’s last gigantic production. I now propose to point
out some discrepancies in the General’s address; and such, too,
as he shall not be able to escape from. Speaking of the famous
assignment, the General says: “This last charge, which was their
last resort, their dying effort to render my character infamous
among my fellow citizens, was manufactured at a certain lawyer’s
office in the town, printed at the office of the Sangamon
Journal, and found its way into the world some time between two
days just before the last election.” Now turn to Mr. Keys’
affidavit, in which you will find the following, viz.: “I certify
that some time in May or the early part of June, 1837, I saw at
Williams’s corner a paper purporting to be an assignment from
Joseph Anderson to James Adams, which assignment was signed by a
mark to Anderson’s name,” etc. Now mark, if Keys saw the
assignment on the last of May or first of June, Gen. Adams tells
a falsehood when he says it was manufactured just before the
election, which was on the 7th of August; and if it was
manufactured just before the election, Keys tells a falsehood
when he says he saw it on the last of May or first of June.
Either Keys or the General is irretrievably in for it; and in the
General’s very condescending language, I say “Let them settle it
between them.”

Now again, let the reader, bearing in mind that General Adams has
unequivocally said, in one part of his address, that the charge
in relation to the assignment was manufactured just before the
election, turn to the affidavit of Peter S. Weber, where the
following will be found viz.: “I, Peter S. Weber, do certify
that from the best of my recollection, on the day or day after
Gen. Adams started for the Illinois Rapids, in May last, that I
was at the house of Gen. Adams, sitting in the kitchen, situated
on the back part of the house, it being in the afternoon, and
that Benjamin Talbott came around the house, back into the
kitchen, and appeared wild and confused, and that he laid a
package of papers on the kitchen table and requested that they
should be handed to Lucian. He made no apology for coming to the
kitchen, nor for not handing them to Lucian himself, but showed
the token of being frightened and confused both in demeanor and
speech and for what cause I could not apprehend.”

Commenting on Weber’s affidavit, Gen. Adams asks, “Why this
fright and confusion?” I reply that this is a question for the
General himself. Weber says that it was in May, and if so, it is
most clear that Talbott was not frightened on account of the
assignment, unless the General lies when he says the assignment
charge was manufactured just before the election. Is it not a
strong evidence, that the General is not traveling with the pole-
star of truth in his front, to see him in one part of his address
roundly asserting that the assignment was manufactured just
before the election, and then, forgetting that position,
procuring Weber’s most foolish affidavit, to prove that Talbott
had been engaged in manufacturing it two months before?

In another part of his address, Gen. Adams says: “That I hold an
assignment of said judgment, dated the 20th of May, 1828, and
signed by said Anderson, I have never pretended to deny or
conceal, but stated that fact in one of my circulars previous to
the election, and also in answer to a bill in chancery.” Now I
pronounce this statement unqualifiedly false, and shall not rely
on the word or oath of any man to sustain me in what I say; but
will let the whole be decided by reference to the circular and
answer in chancery of which the General speaks. In his circular
he did speak of an assignment; but he did not say it bore date
20th of May, 1828; nor did he say it bore any date. In his
answer in chancery, he did say that he had an assignment; but he
did not say that it bore date the 20th May, 1828; but so far from
it, he said on oath (for he swore to the answer) that as well as
recollected, he obtained it in 1827. If any one doubts, let him
examine the circular and answer for himself. They are both

It will readily be observed that the principal part of Adams’s
defense rests upon the argument that if he had been base enough
to forge an assignment he would not have been fool enough to
forge one that would not cover the case. This argument he used
in his circular before the election. The Republican has used it
at least once, since then; and Adams uses it again in his
publication of to-day. Now I pledge myself to show that he is
just such a fool that he and his friends have contended it was
impossible for him to be. Recollect–he says he has a genuine
assignment; and that he got Joseph Klein’s affidavit, stating
that he had seen it, and that he believed the signature to have
been executed by the same hand that signed Anderson’s name to the
answer in chancery. Luckily Klein took a copy of this genuine
assignment, which I have been permitted to see; and hence I know
it does not cover the case. In the first place it is headed
“Joseph Anderson vs. Joseph Miller,” and heads off “Judgment in
Sangamon Circuit Court.” Now, mark, there never was a case in
Sangamon Circuit Court entitled Joseph Anderson vs. Joseph
Miller. The case mentioned in my former publication, and the
only one between these parties that ever existed in the Circuit
Court, was entitled Joseph Miller vs. Joseph Anderson, Miller
being the plaintiff. What then becomes of all their sophistry
about Adams not being fool enough to forge an assignment that
would not cover the case? It is certain that the present one does
not cover the case; and if he got it honestly, it is still clear
that he was fool enough to pay for an assignment that does not
cover the case.

The General asks for the proof of disinterested witnesses. Whom
does he consider disinterested? None can be more so than those
who have already testified against him. No one of them had the
least interest on earth, so far as I can learn, to injure him.
True, he says they had conspired against him; but if the
testimony of an angel from Heaven were introduced against him, he
would make the same charge of conspiracy. And now I put the
question to every reflecting man, Do you believe that Benjamin
Talbott, Chas. R. Matheny, William Butler and Stephen T.
Logan, all sustaining high and spotless characters, and justly
proud of them, would deliberately perjure themselves, without any
motive whatever, except to injure a man’s election; and that,
too, a man who had been a candidate, time out of mind, and yet
who had never been elected to any office?

Adams’s assurance, in demanding disinterested testimony, is
surpassing. He brings in the affidavit of his own son, and even
of Peter S. Weber, with whom I am not acquainted, but who, I
suppose, is some black or mulatto boy, from his being kept in the
kitchen, to prove his points; but when such a man as Talbott, a
man who, but two years ago, ran against Gen. Adams for the office
of Recorder and beat him more than four votes to one, is
introduced against him, he asks the community, with all the
consequence of a lord, to reject his testimony.

I might easily write a volume, pointing out inconsistencies
between the statements in Adams’s last address with one another,
and with other known facts; but I am aware the reader must
already be tired with the length of this article. His opening
statements, that he was first accused of being a Tory, and that
he refuted that; that then the Sampson’s ghost story was got up,
and he refuted that; that as a last resort, a dying effort, the
assignment charge was got up is all as false as hell, as all this
community must know. Sampson’s ghost first made its appearance
in print, and that, too, after Keys swears he saw the assignment,
as any one may see by reference to the files of papers; and Gen.
Adams himself, in reply to the Sampson’s ghost story, was the
first man that raised the cry of toryism, and it was only by way
of set-off, and never in seriousness, that it was bandied back at
him. His effort is to make the impression that his enemies first
made the charge of toryism and he drove them from that, then
Sampson’s ghost, he drove them from that, then finally the
assignment charge was manufactured just before election. Now,
the only general reply he ever made to the Sampson’s ghost and
tory charges he made at one and the same time, and not in
succession as he states; and the date of that reply will show,
that it was made at least a month after the date on which Keys
swears he saw the Anderson assignment. But enough. In
conclusion I will only say that I have a character to defend as
well as Gen. Adams, but I disdain to whine about it as he does.
It is true I have no children nor kitchen boys; and if I had, I
should scorn to lug them in to make affidavits for me.

A. LINCOLN, September 6, 1837.



“SANGAMON JOURNAL,” Springfield, Ill, Oct.28, 1837.

Such is the turn which things have taken lately, that when Gen.
Adams writes a book, I am expected to write a commentary on it.
In the Republican of this morning he has presented the world with
a new work of six columns in length; in consequence of which I
must beg the room of one column in the Journal. It is obvious
that a minute reply cannot be made in one column to everything
that can be said in six; and, consequently, I hope that
expectation will be answered if I reply to such parts of the
General’s publication as are worth replying to.

It may not be improper to remind the reader that in his
publication of Sept. 6th General Adams said that the assignment
charge was manufactured just before the election; and that in
reply I proved that statement to be false by Keys, his own
witness. Now, without attempting to explain, he furnishes me
with another witness (Tinsley) by which the same thing is proved,
to wit, that the assignment was not manufactured just before the
election; but that it was some weeks before. Let it be borne in
mind that Adams made this statement–has himself furnished two
witnesses to prove its falsehood, and does not attempt to deny or
explain it. Before going farther, let a pin be stuck here,
labeled “One lie proved and confessed.” On the 6th of September
he said he had before stated in the hand-bill that he held an
assignment dated May 20th, 1828, which in reply I pronounced to
be false, and referred to the hand-bill for the truth of what I
said. This week he forgets to make any explanation of this. Let
another pin be stuck here, labelled as before. I mention these
things because, if, when I convict him in one falsehood, he is
permitted to shift his ground and pass it by in silence, there
can be no end to this controversy.

The first thing that attracts my attention in the General’s
present production is the information he is pleased to give to
“those who are made to suffer at his (my) hands.”

Under present circumstances, this cannot apply to me, for I am
not a widow nor an orphan: nor have I a wife or children who
might by possibility become such. Such, however, I have no
doubt, have been, and will again be made to suffer at his hands!
Hands! Yes, they are the mischievous agents. The next thing I
shall notice is his favorite expression, “not of lawyers, doctors
and others,” which he is so fond of applying to all who dare
expose his rascality. Now, let it be remembered that when he
first came to this country he attempted to impose himself upon
the community as a lawyer, and actually carried the attempt so
far as to induce a man who was under a charge of murder to
entrust the defence of his life in his hands, and finally took
his money and got him hanged. Is this the man that is to raise a
breeze in his favor by abusing lawyers? If he is not himself a
lawyer, it is for the lack of sense, and not of inclination. If
he is not a lawyer, he is a liar, for he proclaimed himself a
lawyer, and got a man hanged by depending on him.

Passing over such parts of the article as have neither fact nor
argument in them, I come to the question asked by Adams whether
any person ever saw the assignment in his possession. This is an
insult to common sense. Talbott has sworn once and repeated time
and again, that he got it out of Adams’s possession and returned
it into the same possession. Still, as though he was addressing
fools, he has assurance to ask if any person ever saw it in his

Next I quote a sentence, “Now my son Lucian swears that when
Talbott called for the deed, that he, Talbott, opened it and
pointed out the error.” True. His son Lucian did swear as he
says; and in doing so, he swore what I will prove by his own
affidavit to be a falsehood. Turn to Lucian’s affidavit, and you
will there see that Talbott called for the deed by which to
correct an error on the record. Thus it appears that the error
in question was on the record, and not in the deed. How then
could Talbott open the deed and point out the error? Where a
thing is not, it cannot be pointed out. The error was not in the
deed, and of course could not be pointed out there. This does
not merely prove that the error could not be pointed out, as
Lucian swore it was; but it proves, too, that the deed was not
opened in his presence with a special view to the error, for if
it had been, he could not have failed to see that there was no
error in it. It is easy enough to see why Lucian swore this.
His object was to prove that the assignment was not in the deed
when Talbott got it: but it was discovered he could not swear
this safely, without first swearing the deed was opened–and if
he swore it was opened, he must show a motive for opening it, and
the conclusion with him and his father was that the pointing out
the error would appear the most plausible.

For the purpose of showing that the assignment was not in the
bundle when Talbott got it, is the story introduced into Lucian’s
affidavit that the deeds were counted. It is a remarkable fact,
and one that should stand as a warning to all liars and
fabricators, that in this short affidavit of Lucian’s he only
attempted to depart from the truth, so far as I have the means of
knowing, in two points, to wit, in the opening the deed and
pointing out the error and the counting of the deeds,–and in
both of these he caught himself. About the counting, he caught
himself thus–after saying the bundle contained five deeds and a
lease, he proceeds, “and I saw no other papers than the said deed
and lease.” First he has six papers, and then he saw none but
two; for “my son Lucian’s” benefit, let a pin be stuck here.

Adams again adduces the argument, that he could not have forged
the assignment, for the reason that he could have had no motive
for it. With those that know the facts there is no absence of
motive. Admitting the paper which he has filed in the suit to be
genuine, it is clear that it cannot answer the purpose for which
he designs it. Hence his motive for making one that he supposed
would answer is obvious. His making the date too old is also
easily enough accounted for. The records were not in his hands,
and then, there being some considerable talk upon this particular
subject, he knew he could not examine the records to ascertain
the precise dates without subjecting himself to suspicion; and
hence he concluded to try it by guess, and, as it turned out,
missed it a little. About Miller’s deposition I have a word to
say. In the first place, Miller’s answer to the first question
shows upon its face that he had been tampered with, and the
answer dictated to him. He was asked if he knew Joel Wright and
James Adams; and above three-fourths of his answer consists of
what he knew about Joseph Anderson, a man about whom nothing had
been asked, nor a word said in the question–a fact that can only
be accounted for upon the supposition that Adams had secretly
told him what he wished him to swear to.

Another of Miller’s answers I will prove both by common sense and
the Court of Record is untrue. To one question he answers,
“Anderson brought a suit against me before James Adams, then an
acting justice of the peace in Sangamon County, before whom he
obtained a judgment.

“Q.–Did you remove the same by injunction to the Sangamon
Circuit Court? Ans.–I did remove it.”

Now mark–it is said he removed it by injunction. The word
“injunction” in common language imports a command that some
person or thing shall not move or be removed; in law it has the
same meaning. An injunction issuing out of chancery to a justice
of the peace is a command to him to stop all proceedings in a
named case until further orders. It is not an order to remove
but to stop or stay something that is already moving. Besides
this, the records of the Sangamon Circuit Court show that the
judgment of which Miller swore was never removed into said Court
by injunction or otherwise.

I have now to take notice of a part of Adams’s address which in
the order of time should have been noticed before. It is in
these words: “I have now shown, in the opinion of two competent
judges, that the handwriting of the forged assignment differed
from mine, and by one of them that it could not be mistaken for
mine.” That is false. Tinsley no doubt is the judge referred
to; and by reference to his certificate it will be seen that he
did not say the handwriting of the assignment could not be
mistaken for Adams’s–nor did he use any other expression
substantially, or anything near substantially, the same. But if
Tinsley had said the handwriting could not be mistaken for
Adams’s, it would have been equally unfortunate for Adams: for it
then would have contradicted Keys, who says, “I looked at the
writing and judged it the said Adams’s or a good imitation.”

Adams speaks with much apparent confidence of his success on
attending lawsuits, and the ultimate maintenance of his title to
the land in question. Without wishing to disturb the pleasure of
his dream, I would say to him that it is not impossible that he
may yet be taught to sing a different song in relation to the

At the end of Miller’s deposition, Adams asks, Will Mr. Lincoln
now say that he is almost convinced my title to this ten acre
tract of land is founded in fraud?” I answer, I will not. I will
now change the phraseology so as to make it run–I am quite
convinced, &c. I cannot pass in silence Adams’s assertion that
he has proved that the forged assignment was not in the deed when
it came from his house by Talbott, the recorder. In this,
although Talbott has sworn that the assignment was in the bundle
of deeds when it came from his house, Adams has the unaccountable
assurance to say that he has proved the contrary by Talbott. Let
him or his friends attempt to show wherein he proved any such
thing by Talbott.

In his publication of the 6th of September he hinted to Talbott,
that he might be mistaken. In his present, speaking of Talbott
and me he says “They may have been imposed upon.” Can any man of
the least penetration fail to see the object of this? After be
has stormed and raged till he hopes and imagines he has got us a
little scared he wishes to softly whisper in our ears, “If you’l1
quit I will.” If he could get us to say that some unknown,
undefined being had slipped the assignment into our hands without
our knowledge, not a doubt remains but that be would immediately
discover that we were the purest men on earth. This is the
ground he evidently wishes us to understand he is willing to
compromise upon. But we ask no such charity at his hands. We
are neither mistaken nor imposed upon. We have made the
statements we have because we know them to be true and we choose
to live or die by them.

Esq. Carter, who is Adams’s friend, personal and political, will
recollect, that, on the 5th of this month, he (Adams), with a
great affectation of modesty, declared that he would never
introduce his own child as a witness. Notwithstanding this
affectation of modesty, he has in his present publication
introduced his child as witness; and as if to show with how much
contempt he could treat his own declaration, he has had this same
Esq. Carter to administer the oath to him. And so important a
witness does he consider him, and so entirely does the whole of
his entire present production depend upon the testimony of his
child, that in it he has mentioned “my son,” “my son Lucian,”
“Lucian, my son,” and the like expressions no less than fifteen
different times. Let it be remembered here, that I have shown
the affidavit of “my darling son Lucian” to be false by the
evidence apparent on its own face; and I now ask if that
affidavit be taken away what foundation will the fabric have left
to stand upon?

General Adams’s publications and out-door maneuvering, taken in
connection with the editorial articles of the Republican, are not
more foolish and contradictory than they are ludicrous and
amusing. One week the Republican notifies the public that Gen.
Adams is preparing an instrument that will tear, rend, split,
rive, blow up, confound, overwhelm, annihilate, extinguish,
exterminate, burst asunder, and grind to powder all its
slanderers, and particularly Talbott and Lincoln–all of which is
to be done in due time.

Then for two or three weeks all is calm–not a word said. Again
the Republican comes forth with a mere passing remark that
“public” opinion has decided in favor of Gen. Adams, and
intimates that he will give himself no more trouble about the
matter. In the meantime Adams himself is prowling about and, as
Burns says of the devil, “For prey, and holes and corners
tryin’,” and in one instance goes so far as to take an old
acquaintance of mine several steps from a crowd and, apparently
weighed down with the importance of his business, gravely and
solemnly asks him if “he ever heard Lincoln say he was a deist.”

Anon the Republican comes again. “We invite the attention of the
public to General Adams’s communication,” &c. “The victory is a
great one, the triumph is overwhelming.” I really believe the
editor of the Illinois Republican is fool enough to think General
Adams leads off–“Authors most egregiously mistaken) &c. Most
woefully shall their presumption be punished,” &c. (Lord have
mercy on us.) “The hour is yet to come, yea, nigh at hand–(how
long first do you reckon ?)–when the Journal and its junto shall
say, I have appeared too early.” “Their infamy shall be laid bare
to the public gaze.” Suddenly the General appears to relent at
the severity with which he is treating us and he exclaims: “The
condemnation of my enemies is the inevitable result of my own
defense.” For your health’s sake, dear Gen., do not permit your
tenderness of heart to afflict you so much on our account. For
some reason (perhaps because we are killed so quickly) we shall
never be sensible of our suffering.

Farewell, General. I will see you again at court if not before–
when and where we will settle the question whether you or the
widow shall have the land.

October 18, 1837.



SPRINGFIELD, April 1, 1838.

DEAR MADAM:–Without apologizing for being egotistical, I shall
make the history of so much of my life as has elapsed since I saw
you the subject of this letter. And, by the way, I now discover
that, in order to give a full and intelligible account of the
things I have done and suffered since I saw you, I shall
necessarily have to relate some that happened before.

It was, then, in the autumn of 1836 that a married lady of my
acquaintance, and who was a great friend of mine, being about to
pay a visit to her father and other relatives residing in
Kentucky, proposed to me that on her return she would bring a
sister of hers with her on condition that I would engage to
become her brother-in-law with all convenient despatch. I, of
course, accepted the proposal, for you know I could not have done
otherwise had I really been averse to it; but privately, between
you and me, I was most confoundedly well pleased with the
project. I had seen the said sister some three years before,
thought her intelligent and agreeable, and saw no good objection
to plodding life through hand in hand with her. Time passed on;
the lady took her journey and in due time returned, sister in
company, sure enough. This astonished me a little, for it
appeared to me that her coming so readily showed that she was a
trifle too willing, but on reflection it occurred to me that she
might have been prevailed on by her married sister to come
without anything concerning me ever having been mentioned to her,
and so I concluded that if no other objection presented itself, I
would consent to waive this. All this occurred to me on hearing
of her arrival in the neighborhood–for, be it remembered, I had
not yet seen her, except about three years previous, as above
mentioned. In a few days we had an interview, and, although I
had seen her before, she did not look as my imagination had
pictured her. I knew she was over-size, but she now appeared a
fair match for Falstaff. I knew she was called an “old maid,”
and I felt no doubt of the truth of at least half of the
appellation, but now, when I beheld her, I could not for my life
avoid thinking of my mother; and this, not from withered
features,–for her skin was too full of fat to permit of its
contracting into wrinkles,–but from her want of teeth, weather-
beaten appearance in general, and from a kind of notion that ran
in my head that nothing could have commenced at the size of
infancy and reached her present bulk in less than thirty-five or
forty years; and in short, I was not at all pleased with her.
But what could I do? I had told her sister that I would take her
for better or for worse, and I made a point of honor and
conscience in all things to stick to my word especially if others
had been induced to act on it which in this case I had no doubt
they had, for I was now fairly convinced that no other man on
earth would have her, and hence the conclusion that they were
bent on holding me to my bargain.

“Well,” thought I, “I have said it, and, be the consequences what
they may, it shall not be my fault if I fail to do it.” At once I
determined to consider her my wife; and, this done, all my powers
of discovery were put to work in search of perfections in her
which might be fairly set off against her defects. I tried to
imagine her handsome, which, but for her unfortunate corpulency,
was actually true. Exclusive of this no woman that I have ever
seen has a finer face. I also tried to convince myself that the
mind was much more to be valued than the person; and in this she
was not inferior, as I could discover, to any with whom I had
been acquainted.

Shortly after this, without coming to any positive understanding
with her, I set out for Vandalia, when and where you first saw
me. During my stay there I had letters from her which did not
change my opinion of either her intellect or intention, but on
the contrary confirmed it in both.

All this while, although I was fixed, “firm as the surge-
repelling rock,” in my resolution, I found I was continually
repenting the rashness which had led me to make it. Through
life, I have been in no bondage, either real or imaginary, from
the thraldom of which I so much desired to be free. After my
return home, I saw nothing to change my opinions of her in any
particular. She was the same, and so was I. I now spent my time
in planning how I might get along through life after my
contemplated change of circumstances should have taken place, and
how I might procrastinate the evil day for a time, which I really
dreaded as much, perhaps more, than an Irishman does the halter.

After all my suffering upon this deeply interesting subject, here
I am, wholly, unexpectedly, completely, out of the “scrape”; and
now I want to know if you can guess how I got out of it—-out,
clear, in every sense of the term; no violation of word, honor,
or conscience. I don’t believe you can guess, and so I might as
well tell you at once. As the lawyer says, it was done in the
manner following, to wit: After I had delayed the matter as long
as I thought I could in honor do (which, by the way, had brought
me round into the last fall), I concluded I might as well bring
it to a consummation without further delay; and so I mustered my
resolution, and made the proposal to her direct; but, shocking to
relate, she answered, No. At first I supposed she did it through
an affectation of modesty, which I thought but ill became her
under the peculiar circumstances of her case; but on my renewal
of the charge, I found she repelled it with greater firmness than
before. I tried it again and again but with the same success, or
rather with the same want of success.

I finally was forced to give it up; at which I very unexpectedly
found myself mortified almost beyond endurance. I was mortified,
it seemed to me, in a hundred different ways. My vanity was
deeply wounded by the reflection that I had been too stupid to
discover her intentions, and at the same time never doubting that
I understood them perfectly, and also that she, whom I had taught
myself to believe nobody else would have, had actually rejected
me with all my fancied greatness. And, to cap the whole, I then
for the first time began to suspect that I was really a little in
love with her. But let it all go. I’ll try and outlive it.
Others have been made fools of by the girls, but this can never
with truth be said of me. I most emphatically in this instance,
made a fool of myself. I have now come to the conclusion never
again to think of marrying, and for this reason: I can never be
satisfied with any one who would be blockhead enough to have me.

When you receive this, write me a long yarn about something to
amuse me. Give my respects to Mr. Browning.

Your sincere friend,




Mr. Lincoln, from Committee on Finance, to which the subject was
referred, made a report on the subject of purchasing of the
United States all the unsold lands lying within the limits of the
State of Illinois, accompanied by resolutions that this State
propose to purchase all unsold lands at twenty-five cents per
acre, and pledging the faith of the State to carry the proposal
into effect if the government accept the same within two years.

Mr. Lincoln thought the resolutions ought to be seriously
considered. In reply to the gentleman from Adams, he said that
it was not to enrich the State. The price of the lands may be
raised, it was thought by some; by others, that it would be
reduced. The conclusion in his mind was that the representatives
in this Legislature from the country in which the lands lie would
be opposed to raising the price, because it would operate against
the settlement of the lands. He referred to the lands in the
military tract. They had fallen into the hands of large
speculators in consequence of the low price. He was opposed to a
low price of land. He thought it was adverse to the interests of
the poor settler, because speculators buy them up. He was
opposed to a reduction of the price of public lands.

Mr. Lincoln referred to some official documents emanating from
Indiana, and compared the progressive population of the two
States. Illinois had gained upon that State under the public
land system as it is. His conclusion was that ten years from
this time Illinois would have no more public land unsold than
Indiana now has. He referred also to Ohio. That State had sold
nearly all her public lands. She was but twenty years ahead of
us, and as our lands were equally salable–more so, as he
maintained–we should have no more twenty years from now than she
has at present.

Mr. Lincoln referred to the canal lands, and supposed that the
policy of the State would be different in regard to them, if the
representatives from that section of country could themselves
choose the policy; but the representatives from other parts of
the State had a veto upon it, and regulated the policy. He
thought that if the State had all the lands, the policy of the
Legislature would be more liberal to all sections.

He referred to the policy of the General Government. He thought
that if the national debt had not been paid, the expenses of the
government would not have doubled, as they had done since that
debt was paid.

TO _________ ROW.

SPRINGFIELD, June 11, 1839


Mr. Redman informs me that you wish me to write you the
particulars of a conversation between Dr. Felix and myself
relative to you. The Dr. overtook me between Rushville and

He, after learning that I had lived at Springfield, asked if I
was acquainted with you. I told him I was. He said you had
lately been elected constable in Adams, but that you never would
be again. I asked him why. He said the people there had found
out that you had been sheriff or deputy sheriff in Sangamon
County, and that you came off and left your securities to suffer.
He then asked me if I did not know such to be the fact. I told
him I did not think you had ever been sheriff or deputy sheriff
in Sangamon, but that I thought you had been constable. I
further told him that if you had left your securities to suffer
in that or any other case, I had never heard of it, and that if
it had been so, I thought I would have heard of it.

If the Dr. is telling that I told him anything against you
whatever, I authorize you to contradict it flatly. We have no
news here.

Your friend, as ever,




SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, December 20, 1839.

FELLOW-CITIZENS:–It is peculiarly embarrassing to me to attempt
a continuance of the discussion, on this evening, which has been
conducted in this hall on several preceding ones. It is so
because on each of those evenings there was a much fuller
attendance than now, without any reason for its being so, except
the greater interest the community feel in the speakers who
addressed them then than they do in him who is to do so now. I
am, indeed, apprehensive that the few who have attended have done
so more to spare me mortification than in the hope of being
interested in anything I may be able to say. This circumstance
casts a damp upon my spirits, which I am sure I shall be unable
to overcome during the evening. But enough of preface.

The subject heretofore and now to be discussed is the subtreasury
scheme of the present administration, as a means of collecting,
safe-keeping, transferring, and disbursing, the revenues of the
nation, as contrasted with a national bank for the same purposes.
Mr. Douglas has said that we (the Whigs) have not dared to meet
them (the Locos) in argument on this question. I protest against
this assertion. I assert that we have again and again, during
this discussion, urged facts and arguments against the
subtreasury which they have neither dared to deny nor attempted
to answer. But lest some may be led to believe that we really
wish to avoid the question, I now propose, in my humble way, to
urge those arguments again; at the same time begging the audience
to mark well the positions I shall take and the proof I shall
offer to sustain them, and that they will not again permit Mr.
Douglas or his friends to escape the force of them by a round and
groundless assertion that we “dare not meet them in argument.”

Of the subtreasury, then, as contrasted with a national bank for
the before-enumerated purposes, I lay down the following
propositions, to wit: (1) It will injuriously affect the
community by its operation on the circulating medium. (2) It
will be a more expensive fiscal agent. (3) It will be a less
secure depository of the public money. To show the truth of the
first proposition, let us take a short review of our condition
under the operation of a national bank. It was the depository of
the public revenues. Between the collection of those revenues
and the disbursement of them by the government, the bank was
permitted to and did actually loan them out to individuals, and
hence the large amount of money actually collected for revenue
purposes, which by any other plan would have been idle a great
portion of the time, was kept almost constantly in circulation.
Any person who will reflect that money is only valuable while in
circulation will readily perceive that any device which will keep
the government revenues in constant circulation, instead of being
locked up in idleness, is no inconsiderable advantage. By the
subtreasury the revenue is to be collected and kept in iron boxes
until the government wants it for disbursement; thus robbing the
people of the use of it, while the government does not itself
need it, and while the money is performing no nobler office than
that of rusting in iron boxes. The natural effect of this change
of policy, every one will see, is to reduce the quantity of money
in circulation. But, again, by the subtreasury scheme the
revenue is to be collected in specie. I anticipate that this
will be disputed. I expect to hear it said that it is not the
policy of the administration to collect the revenue in specie.
If it shall, I reply that Mr. Van Buren, in his message
recommending the subtreasury, expended nearly a column of that
document in an attempt to persuade Congress to provide for the
collection of the revenue in specie exclusively; and he concludes
with these words:

“It may be safely assumed that no motive of convenience to the
citizens requires the reception of bank paper.” In addition to
this, Mr. Silas Wright, Senator from New York, and the political,
personal and confidential friend of Mr. Van Buren, drafted and
introduced into the Senate the first subtreasury bill, and that
bill provided for ultimately collecting the revenue in specie.
It is true, I know, that that clause was stricken from the bill,
but it was done by the votes of the Whigs, aided by a portion
only of the Van Buren senators. No subtreasury bill has yet
become a law, though two or three have been considered by
Congress, some with and some without the specie clause; so that I
admit there is room for quibbling upon the question of whether
the administration favor the exclusive specie doctrine or not;
but I take it that the fact that the President at first urged the
specie doctrine, and that under his recommendation the first bill
introduced embraced it, warrants us in charging it as the policy
of the party until their head as publicly recants it as he at
first espoused it. I repeat, then, that by the subtreasury the
revenue is to be collected in specie. Now mark what the effect
of this must be. By all estimates ever made there are but
between sixty and eighty millions of specie in the United States.
The expenditures of the Government for the year 1838–the last
for which we have had the report–were forty millions. Thus it
is seen that if the whole revenue be collected in specie, it will
take more than half of all the specie in the nation to do it. By
this means more than half of all the specie belonging to the
fifteen millions of souls who compose the whole population of the
country is thrown into the hands of the public office-holders,
and other public creditors comprising in number perhaps not more
than one quarter of a million, leaving the other fourteen
millions and three quarters to get along as they best can, with
less than one half of the specie of the country, and whatever
rags and shinplasters they may be able to put, and keep, in
circulation. By this means, every office-holder and other public
creditor may, and most likely will, set up shaver; and a most
glorious harvest will the specie-men have of it,–each specie-
man, upon a fair division, having to his share the fleecing of
about fifty-nine rag-men. In all candor let me ask, was such a
system for benefiting the few at the expense of the many ever
before devised? And was the sacred name of Democracy ever before
made to indorse such an enormity against the rights of the

I have already said that the subtreasury will reduce the quantity
of money in circulation. This position is strengthened by the
recollection that the revenue is to be collected in Specie, so
that the mere amount of revenue is not all that is withdrawn, but
the amount of paper circulation that the forty millions would
serve as a basis to is withdrawn, which would be in a sound state
at least one hundred millions. When one hundred millions, or
more, of the circulation we now have shall be withdrawn, who can
contemplate without terror the distress, ruin, bankruptcy, and
beggary that must follow? The man who has purchased any article–
say a horse–on credit, at one hundred dollars, when there are
two hundred millions circulating in the country, if the quantity
be reduced to one hundred millions by the arrival of pay-day,
will find the horse but sufficient to pay half the debt; and the
other half must either be paid out of his other means, and
thereby become a clear loss to him, or go unpaid, and thereby
become a clear loss to his creditor. What I have here said of a
single case of the purchase of a horse will hold good in every
case of a debt existing at the time a reduction in the quantity
of money occurs, by whomsoever, and for whatsoever, it may have
been contracted. It may be said that what the debtor loses the
creditor gains by this operation; but on examination this will be
found true only to a very limited extent. It is more generally
true that all lose by it–the creditor by losing more of his
debts than he gains by the increased value of those he collects;
the debtor by either parting with more of his property to pay his
debts than he received in contracting them, or by entirely
breaking up his business, and thereby being thrown upon the world
in idleness.

The general distress thus created will, to be sure, be temporary,
because, whatever change may occur in the quantity of money in
any community, time will adjust the derangement produced; but
while that adjustment is progressing, all suffer more or less,
and very many lose everything that renders life desirable. Why,
then, shall we suffer a severe difficulty, even though it be but
temporary, unless we receive some equivalent for it?

What I have been saying as to the effect produced by a reduction
of the quantity of money relates to the whole country. I now
propose to show that it would produce a peculiar and permanent
hardship upon the citizens of those States and Territories in
which the public lands lie. The land-offices in those States and
Territories, as all know, form the great gulf by which all, or
nearly all, the money in them is swallowed up. When the quantity
of money shall be reduced, and consequently everything under
individual control brought down in proportion, the price of those
lands, being fixed by law, will remain as now. Of necessity it
will follow that the produce or labor that now raises money
sufficient to purchase eighty acres will then raise but
sufficient to purchase forty, or perhaps not that much; and this
difficulty and hardship will last as long, in some degree, as any
portion of these lands shall remain undisposed of. Knowing, as I
well do, the difficulty that poor people now encounter in
procuring homes, I hesitate not to say that when the price of the
public lands shall be doubled or trebled, or, which is the same
thing, produce and labor cut down to one half or one third of
their present prices, it will be little less than impossible for
them to procure those homes at all….

Well, then, what did become of him? (Postmaster General Barry)
Why, the President immediately expressed his high disapprobation
of his almost unequaled incapacity and corruption by appointing
him to a foreign mission, with a salary and outfit of $18,000 a
year! The party now attempt to throw Barry off, and to avoid the
responsibility of his sins. Did not the President indorse those
sins when, on the very heel of their commission, he appointed
their author to the very highest and most honorable office in his
gift, and which is but a single step behind the very goal of
American political ambition?

I return to another of Mr. Douglas’s excuses for the expenditures
of 1838, at the same time announcing the pleasing intelligence
that this is the last one. He says that ten millions of that
year’s expenditure was a contingent appropriation, to prosecute
an anticipated war with Great Britain on the Maine boundary
question. Few words will settle this. First, that the ten
millions appropriated was not made till 1839, and consequently
could not have been expended in 1838; second, although it was
appropriated, it has never been expended at all. Those who heard
Mr. Douglas recollect that he indulged himself in a contemptuous
expression of pity for me. “Now he’s got me,” thought I. But
when he went on to say that five millions of the expenditure of
1838 were payments of the French indemnities, which I knew to be
untrue; that five millions had been for the post-office, which I
knew to be untrue; that ten millions had been for the Maine
boundary war, which I not only knew to be untrue, but supremely
ridiculous also; and when I saw that he was stupid enough to hope
that I would permit such groundless and audacious assertions to
go unexposed,–I readily consented that, on the score both of
veracity and sagacity, the audience should judge whether he or I
were the more deserving of the world’s contempt.

Mr. Lamborn insists that the difference between the Van Buren
party and the Whigs is that, although the former sometimes err in
practice, they are always correct in principle, whereas the
latter are wrong in principle; and, better to impress this
proposition, he uses a figurative expression in these words: “The
Democrats are vulnerable in the heel, but they are sound in the
head and the heart.” The first branch of the figure–that is,
that the Democrats are vulnerable in the heel–I admit is not
merely figuratively, but literally true. Who that looks but for
a moment at their Swartwouts, their Prices, their Harringtons,
and their hundreds of others, scampering away with the public
money to Texas, to Europe, and to every spot of the earth where a
villain may hope to find refuge from justice, can at all doubt
that they are most distressingly affected in their heels with a
species of “running itch”? It seems that this malady of their
heels operates on these sound-headed and honest-hearted creatures
very much like the cork leg in the comic song did on its owner:
which, when he had once got started on it, the more he tried to
stop it, the more it would run away. At the hazard of wearing
this point threadbare, I will relate an anecdote which seems too
strikingly in point to be omitted. A witty Irish soldier, who
was always boasting of his bravery when no danger was near, but
who invariably retreated without orders at the first charge of an
engagement, being asked by his captain why he did so, replied:
“Captain, I have as brave a heart as Julius Caesar ever had; but,
somehow or other, whenever danger approaches, my cowardly legs
will run away with it.” So with Mr. Lamborn’s party. They take
the public money into their hand for the most laudable purpose
that wise heads and honest hearts can dictate; but before they
can possibly get it out again, their rascally “vulnerable heels”
will run away with them.

Seriously this proposition of Mr. Lamborn is nothing more or less
than a request that his party may be tried by their professions
instead of their practices. Perhaps no position that the party
assumes is more liable to or more deserving of exposure than this
very modest request; and nothing but the unwarrantable length to
which I have already extended these remarks forbids me now
attempting to expose it. For the reason given, I pass it by.

I shall advert to but one more point. Mr. Lamborn refers to the
late elections in the States, and from their results confidently
predicts that every State in the Union will vote for Mr. Van
Buren at the next Presidential election. Address that argument
to cowards and to knaves; with the free and the brave it will
effect nothing. It may be true; if it must, let it. Many free
countries have lost their liberty, and ours may lose hers; but if
she shall, be it my proudest plume, not that I was the last to
desert, but that I never deserted her. I know that the great
volcano at Washington, aroused and directed by the evil spirit
that reigns there, is belching forth the lava of political
corruption in a current broad and deep, which is sweeping with
frightful velocity over the whole length and breadth of the land,
bidding fair to leave unscathed no green spot or living thing;
while on its bosom are riding, like demons on the waves of hell,
the imps of that evil spirit, and fiendishly taunting all those
who dare resist its destroying course with the hopelessness of
their effort; and, knowing this, I cannot deny that all may be
swept away. Broken by it I, too, may be; bow to it I never will.
The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to
deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just; it
shall not deter me. If ever I feel the soul within me elevate
and expand to those dimensions not wholly unworthy of its
almighty Architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of my
country deserted by all the world beside, and I standing up
boldly and alone, and hurling defiance at her victorious
oppressors. Here, without contemplating consequences, before
high heaven and in the face of the world, I swear eternal
fidelity to the just cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life,
my liberty, and my love. And who that thinks with me will not
fearlessly adopt the oath that I take? Let none falter who thinks
he is right, and we may succeed. But if, after all, we shall
fail, be it so. We still shall have the proud consolation of
saying to our consciences, and to the departed shade of our
country’s freedom, that the cause approved of our judgment, and
adored of our hearts, in disaster, in chains, in torture, in
death, we never faltered in defending.


SPRINGFIELD, December 23, 1839.


Dr. Henry will write you all the political news. I write this
about some little matters of business. You recollect you told me
you had drawn the Chicago Masark money, and sent it to the
claimants. A hawk-billed Yankee is here besetting me at every
turn I take, saying that Robert Kinzie never received the eighty
dollars to which he was entitled. Can you tell me anything about
the matter? Again, old Mr. Wright, who lives up South Fork
somewhere, is teasing me continually about some deeds which he
says he left with you, but which I can find nothing of. Can you
tell me where they are? The Legislature is in session and has
suffered the bank to forfeit its charter without benefit of
clergy. There seems to be little disposition to resuscitate it.

Whenever a letter comes from you to Mrs._____________
I carry it to her, and then I see Betty; she is a tolerable nice
“fellow” now. Maybe I will write again when I get more time.

Your friend as ever,

P. S.–The Democratic giant is here, but he is not much worth
talking about.




January [1?], 1840.

To MESSRS _______

GENTLEMEN:–In obedience to a resolution of the Whig State
convention, we have appointed you the Central Whig Committee of
your county. The trust confided to you will be one of
watchfulness and labor; but we hope the glory of having
contributed to the overthrow of the corrupt powers that now
control our beloved country will be a sufficient reward for the
time and labor you will devote to it. Our Whig brethren
throughout the Union have met in convention, and after due
deliberation and mutual concessions have elected candidates for
the Presidency and Vice-Presidency not only worthy of our cause,
but worthy of the support of every true patriot who would have
our country redeemed, and her institutions honestly and
faithfully administered. To overthrow the trained bands that are
opposed to us whose salaried officers are ever on the watch, and
whose misguided followers are ever ready to obey their smallest
commands, every Whig must not only know his duty, but must firmly
resolve, whatever of time and labor it may cost, boldly and
faithfully to do it. Our intention is to organize the whole
State, so that every Whig can be brought to the polls in the
coming Presidential contest. We cannot do this, however, without
your co-operation; and as we do our duty, so we shall expect you
to do yours. After due deliberation, the following is the plan
of organization, and the duties required of each county

(1) To divide their county into small districts, and to appoint
in each a subcommittee, whose duty it shall be to make a perfect
list of all the voters in their respective districts, and to
ascertain with certainty for whom they will vote. If they meet
with men who are doubtful as to the man they will support, such
voters should be designated in separate lines, with the name of
the man they will probably support.

(2) It will be the duty of said subcommittee to keep a constant
watch on the doubtful voters, and from time to time have them
talked to by those in whom they have the most confidence, and
also to place in their hands such documents as will enlighten and
influence them.

(3) It will also be their duty to report to you, at least once a
month, the progress they are making, and on election days see
that every Whig is brought to the polls.

(4) The subcommittees should be appointed immediately; and by the
last of April, at least, they should make their first report.

(5) On the first of each month hereafter we shall expect to hear
from you. After the first report of your subcommittees, unless
there should be found a great many doubtful voters, you can tell
pretty accurately the manner in which your county will vote. In
each of your letters to us, you will state the number of certain
votes both for and against us, as well as the number of doubtful
votes, with your opinion of the manner in which they will be

(6) When we have heard from all the counties, we shall be able to
tell with similar accuracy the political complexion of the State.
This information will be forwarded to you as soon as received.

(7) Inclosed is a prospectus for a newspaper to be continued
until after the Presidential election. It will be superintended
by ourselves, and every Whig in the State must take it. It will
be published so low that every one can afford it. You must raise
a fund and forward us for extra copies,–every county ought to
send–fifty or one hundred dollars,–and the copies will be
forwarded to you for distribution among our political opponents.
The paper will be devoted exclusively to the great cause in which
we are engaged. Procure subscriptions, and forward them to us

(8) Immediately after any election in your county, you must
inform us of its results; and as early as possible after any
general election we will give you the like information.

(9) A senator in Congress is to be elected by our next
Legislature. Let no local interests divide you, but select
candidates that can succeed.

(10) Our plan of operations will of course be concealed from
every one except our good friends who of right ought to know

Trusting much in our good cause, the strength of our candidates,
and the determination of the Whigs everywhere to do their duty,
we go to the work of organization in this State confident of
success. We have the numbers, and if properly organized and
exerted, with the gallant Harrison at our head, we shall meet our
foes and conquer them in all parts of the Union.

Address your letters to Dr. A. G. Henry, R. F, Barrett; A.
Lincoln, E. D. Baker, J. F. Speed.


March 1, 1840


I have never seen the prospects of our party so bright in these
parts as they are now. We shall carry this county by a larger
majority than we did in 1836, when you ran against May. I do not
think my prospects, individually, are very flattering, for I
think it probable I shall not be permitted to be a candidate; but
the party ticket will succeed triumphantly. Subscriptions to the
“Old Soldier” pour in without abatement. This morning I took
from the post office a letter from Dubois enclosing the names of
sixty subscribers, and on carrying it to Francis I found he had
received one hundred and forty more from other quarters by the
same day’s mail. That is but an average specimen of every day’s
receipts. Yesterday Douglas, having chosen to consider himself
insulted by something in the Journal, undertook to cane Francis
in the street. Francis caught him by the hair and jammed him
back against a market cart where the matter ended by Francis
being pulled away from him. The whole affair was so ludicrous
that Francis and everybody else (Douglass excepted) have been
laughing about it ever since.

I send you the names of some of the V.B. men who have come out
for Harrison about town, and suggest that you send them some

Moses Coffman (he let us appoint him a delegate yesterday), Aaron
Coffman, George Gregory, H. M. Briggs, Johnson (at Birchall’s
Bookstore), Michael Glyn, Armstrong (not Hosea nor Hugh, but a
carpenter), Thomas Hunter, Moses Pileher (he was always a Whig
and deserves attention), Matthew Crowder Jr., Greenberry Smith;
John Fagan, George Fagan, William Fagan (these three fell out
with us about Early, and are doubtful now), John M. Cartmel,
Noah Rickard, John Rickard, Walter Marsh.

The foregoing should be addressed at Springfield.

Also send some to Solomon Miller and John Auth at Salisbury.
Also to Charles Harper, Samuel Harper, and B. C. Harper, and T.
J. Scroggins, John Scroggins at Pulaski, Logan County.

Speed says he wrote you what Jo Smith said about you as he passed
here. We will procure the names of some of his people here, and
send them to you before long. Speed also says you must not fail
to send us the New York Journal he wrote for some time since.

Evan Butler is jealous that you never send your compliments to
him. You must not neglect him next time.

Your friend, as ever,


November 28, 1840.

In the Illinois House of Representatives, November 28, 1840, Mr.
Lincoln offered the following:

Resolved, That so much of the governor’s message as relates to
fraudulent voting, and other fraudulent practices at elections,
be referred to the Committee on Elections, with instructions to
said committee to prepare and report to the House a bill for such
an act as may in their judgment afford the greatest possible
protection of the elective franchise against all frauds of all
sorts whatever.


December 2, 1840.

Resolved, That the Committee on Education be instructed to
inquire into the expediency of providing by law for the
examination as to the qualification of persons offering
themselves as school teachers, that no teacher shall receive any
part of the public school fund who shall not have successfully
passed such examination, and that they report by bill or


December 4, 1840

In the House of Representatives, Illinois, December 4, 1840, on
presentation of a report respecting petition of H. N. Purple,
claiming the seat of Mr. Phelps from Peoria, Mr. Lincoln moved
that the House resolve itself into Committee of the Whole on the
question, and take it up immediately. Mr. Lincoln considered the
question of the highest importance whether an individual had a
right to sit in this House or not. The course he should propose
would be to take up the evidence and decide upon the facts

Mr. Drummond wanted time; they could not decide in the heat of
debate, etc.

Mr. Lincoln thought that the question had better be gone into
now. In courts of law jurors were required to decide on
evidence, without previous study or examination. They were
required to know nothing of the subject until the evidence was
laid before them for their immediate decision. He thought that
the heat of party would be augmented by delay.

The Speaker called Mr. Lincoln to order as being irrelevant; no
mention had been made of party heat.

Mr. Drummond said he had only spoken of debate. Mr. Lincoln
asked what caused the heat, if it was not party? Mr. Lincoln
concluded by urging that the question would be decided now better
than hereafter, and he thought with less heat and excitement.

(Further debate, in which Lincoln participated.)


December 4, 1840.

In the Illinois House of Representatives, December 4, 1840,House
in Committee of the Whole on the bill providing for payment of
interest on the State debt,–Mr. Lincoln moved to strike out the
body and amendments of the bill, and insert in lieu thereof an
amendment which in substance was that the governor be authorized
to issue bonds for the payment of the interest; that these be
called “interest bonds”; that the taxes accruing on Congress
lands as they become taxable be irrevocably set aside and devoted
as a fund to the payment of the interest bonds. Mr. Lincoln went
into the reasons which appeared to him to render this plan
preferable to that of hypothecating the State bonds. By this
course we could get along till the next meeting of the
Legislature, which was of great importance. To the objection
which might be urged that these interest bonds could not be
cashed, he replied that if our other bonds could, much more could
these, which offered a perfect security, a fund being irrevocably
set aside to provide for their redemption. To another objection,
that we should be paying compound interest, he would reply that
the rapid growth and increase of our resources was in so great a
ratio as to outstrip the difficulty; that his object was to do
the best that could be done in the present emergency. All agreed
that the faith of the State must be preserved; this plan appeared
to him preferable to a hypothecation of bonds, which would have
to be redeemed and the interest paid. How this was to be done, he
could not see; therefore he had, after turning the matter over in
every way, devised this measure, which would carry us on till the
next Legislature.

(Mr. Lincoln spoke at some length, advocating his measure.)

Lincoln advocated his measure, December 11, 1840.

December 12, 1840, he had thought some permanent provision ought
to be made for the bonds to be hypothecated, but was satisfied
taxation and revenue could not be connected with it now.



SPRINGFIELD, Jan 23, 1841

I am now the most miserable man living. If what I feel were
equally distributed to the whole human family, there would not be
one cheerful face on earth. Whether I shall ever be better, I
cannot tell; I awfully forbode I shall not. To remain as I am is
impossible. I must die or be better, as it appears to me….
I fear I shall be unable to attend any business here, and a
change of scene might help me. If I could be myself, I would
rather remain at home with Judge Logan. I can write no more.


January 23, 1841

In the House of Representatives January 23, 1841, while
discussing the continuation of the Illinois and Michigan Canal,
Mr. Moore was afraid the holders of the “scrip” would lose.

Mr. Napier thought there was no danger of that; and Mr. Lincoln
said he had not examined to see what amount of scrip would
probably be needed. The principal point in his mind was this,
that nobody was obliged to take these certificates. It is
altogether voluntary on their part, and if they apprehend it will
fall in their hands they will not take it. Further the loss, if
any there be, will fall on the citizens of that section of the

This scrip is not going to circulate over an extensive range of
country, but will be confined chiefly to the vicinity of the
canal. Now, we find the representatives of that section of the
country are all in favor of the bill.

When we propose to protect their interests, they say to us: Leave
us to take care of ourselves; we are willing to run the risk.
And this is reasonable; we must suppose they are competent to
protect their own interests, and it is only fair to let them do


February 9, 1841.

Appeal to the People of the State of Illinois.

FELLOW-CITIZENS:–When the General Assembly, now about
adjourning, assembled in November last, from the bankrupt state
of the public treasury, the pecuniary embarrassments prevailing
in every department of society, the dilapidated state of the
public works, and the impending danger of the degradation of the
State, you had a right to expect that your representatives would
lose no time in devising and adopting measures to avert
threatened calamities, alleviate the distresses of the people,
and allay the fearful apprehensions in regard to the future
prosperity of the State. It was not expected by you that the
spirit of party would take the lead in the councils of the State,
and make every interest bend to its demands. Nor was it expected
that any party would assume to itself the entire control of
legislation, and convert the means and offices of the State, and
the substance of the people, into aliment for party subsistence.
Neither could it have been expected by you that party spirit,
however strong its desires and unreasonable its demands, would
have passed the sanctuary of the Constitution, and entered with
its unhallowed and hideous form into the formation of the
judiciary system.

At the early period of the session, measures were adopted by the
dominant party to take possession of the State, to fill all
public offices with party men, and make every measure affecting
the interests of the people and the credit of the State operate
in furtherance of their party views. The merits of men and
measures therefore became the subject of discussion in caucus,
instead of the halls of legislation, and decisions there made by
a minority of the Legislature have been executed and carried into
effect by the force of party discipline, without any regard
whatever to the rights of the people or the interests of the
State. The Supreme Court of the State was organized, and judges
appointed, according to the provisions of the Constitution, in
1824. The people have never complained of the organization of
that court; no attempt has ever before been made to change that
department. Respect for public opinion, and regard for the
rights and liberties of the people, have hitherto restrained the
spirit of party from attacks upon the independence and integrity
of the judiciary. The same judges have continued in office since
1824; their decisions have not been the subject of complaint
among the people; the integrity and honesty of the court have not
been questioned, and it has never been supposed that the court
has ever permitted party prejudice or party considerations to
operate upon their decisions. The court was made to consist of
four judges, and by the Constitution two form a quorum for the
transaction of business. With this tribunal, thus constituted,
the people have been satisfied for near sixteen years. The same
law which organized the Supreme Court in 1824 also established
and organized circuit courts to be held in each county in the
State, and five circuit judges were appointed to hold those
courts. In 1826 the Legislature abolished these circuit courts,
repealed the judges out of office, and required the judges of the
Supreme Court to hold the circuit courts. The reasons assigned
for this change were, first, that the business of the country
could be better attended to by the four judges of the Supreme
Court than by the two sets of judges; and, second, the state of
the public treasury forbade the employment of unnecessary
officers. In 1828 a circuit was established north of the
Illinois River, in order to meet the wants of the people, and a
circuit judge was appointed to hold the courts in that circuit.

In 1834 the circuit-court system was again established throughout
the State, circuit judges appointed to hold the courts, and the
judges of the Supreme Court were relieved from the performance of
circuit court duties. The change was recommended by the then
acting governor of the State, General W. L. D. Ewing, in the
following terms:

“The augmented population of the State, the multiplied number of
organized counties, as well as the increase of business in all,
has long since convinced every one conversant with this
department of our government of the indispensable necessity of an
alteration in our judiciary system, and the subject is therefore
recommended to the earnest patriotic consideration of the
Legislature. The present system has never been exempt from
serious and weighty objections. The idea of appealing from the
circuit court to the same judges in the Supreme Court is
recommended by little hopes of redress to the injured party
below. The duties of the circuit, too, it may be added, consume
one half of the year, leaving a small and inadequate portion of
time (when that required for domestic purposes is deducted) to
erect, in the decisions of the Supreme Court, a judicial monument
of legal learning and research, which the talent and ability of
the court might otherwise be entirely competent to.”

With this organization of circuit courts the people have never
complained. The only complaints which we have heard have come
from circuits which were so large that the judges could not
dispose of the business, and the circuits in which Judges Pearson
and Ralston lately presided.

Whilst the honor and credit of the State demanded legislation
upon the subject of the public debt, the canal, the unfinished
public works, and the embarrassments of the people, the judiciary
stood upon a basis which required no change–no legislative
action. Yet the party in power, neglecting every interest
requiring legislative action, and wholly disregarding the rights,
wishes, and interests of the people, has, for the unholy purpose
of providing places for its partisans and supplying them with
large salaries, disorganized that department of the government.
Provision is made for the election of five party judges of the
Supreme Court, the proscription of four circuit judges, and the
appointment of party clerks in more than half the counties of the
State. Men professing respect for public opinion, and
acknowledged to be leaders of the party, have avowed in the halls
of legislation that the change in the judiciary was intended to
produce political results favorable to their party and party
friends. The immutable principles of justice are to make way for
party interests, and the bonds of social order are to be rent in
twain, in order that a desperate faction may be sustained at the
expense of the people. The change proposed in the judiciary was
supported upon grounds so destructive to the institutions of the
country, and so entirely at war with the rights and liberties of
the people, that the party could not secure entire unanimity in
its support, three Democrats of the Senate and five of the House
voting against the measure. They were unwilling to see the
temples of justice and the seats of independent judges occupied
by the tools of faction. The declarations of the party leaders,
the selection of party men for judges, and the total disregard
for the public will in the adoption of the measure, prove
conclusively that the object has been not reform, but
destruction; not the advancement of the highest interests of the
State, but the predominance of party.

We cannot in this manner undertake to point out all the
objections to this party measure; we present you with those
stated by the Council of Revision upon returning the bill, and we
ask for them a candid consideration.

Believing that the independence of the judiciary has been
destroyed, that hereafter our courts will be independent of the
people, and entirely dependent upon the Legislature; that our
rights of property and liberty of conscience can no longer be
regarded as safe from the encroachments of unconstitutional
legislation; and knowing of no other remedy which can be adopted
consistently with the peace and good order of society, we call
upon you to avail yourselves of the opportunity afforded, and, at
the next general election, vote for a convention of the people.


Committee on behalf of the Whig members of the Legislature.


February 26, 1841

For the reasons thus presented, and for others no less apparent,
the undersigned cannot assent to the passage of the bill, or
permit it to become a law, without this evidence of their
disapprobation; and they now protest against the reorganization
of the judiciary, because–(1) It violates the great principles
of free government by subjecting the judiciary to the
Legislature. (2) It is a fatal blow at the independence of the
judges and the constitutional term of their office. (3) It is a
measure not asked for, or wished for, by the people. (4) It will
greatly increase the expense of our courts, or else greatly
diminish their utility. (5) It will give our courts a political
and partisan character, thereby impairing public confidence in
their decisions. (6) It will impair our standing with other
States and the world. (7)It is a party measure for party
purposes, from which no practical good to the people can possibly
arise, but which may be the source of immeasurable evils.

The undersigned are well aware that this protest will be
altogether unavailing with the majority of this body. The blow
has already fallen, and we are compelled to stand by, the
mournful spectators of the ruin it will cause.

[Signed by 35 members, among whom was Abraham Lincoln.]


SPRINGFIELD June 19, 1841.

DEAR SPEED:–We have had the highest state of excitement here for
a week past that our community has ever witnessed; and, although
the public feeling is somewhat allayed, the curious affair which
aroused it is very far from being even yet cleared of mystery.
It would take a quire of paper to give you anything like a full
account of it, and I therefore only propose a brief outline. The
chief personages in the drama are Archibald Fisher, supposed to
be murdered, and Archibald Trailor, Henry Trailor, and William
Trailor, supposed to have murdered him. The three Trailors are
brothers: the first, Arch., as you know, lives in town; the
second, Henry, in Clary’s Grove; and the third, William, in
Warren County; and Fisher, the supposed murdered, being without a
family, had made his home with William. On Saturday evening,
being the 29th of May, Fisher and William came to Henry’s in a
one-horse dearborn, and there stayed over Sunday; and on Monday
all three came to Springfield (Henry on horseback) and joined
Archibald at Myers’s, the Dutch carpenter. That evening at
supper Fisher was missing, and so next morning some ineffectual
search was made for him; and on Tuesday, at one o’clock P.M.,
William and Henry started home without him. In a day or two
Henry and one or two of his Clary-Grove neighbors came back for
him again, and advertised his disappearance in the papers. The
knowledge of the matter thus far had not been general, and here
it dropped entirely, till about the 10th instant, when Keys
received a letter from the postmaster in Warren County, that
William had arrived at home, and was telling a very mysterious
and improbable story about the disappearance of Fisher, which
induced the community there to suppose he had been disposed of
unfairly. Keys made this letter public, which immediately set
the whole town and adjoining county agog. And so it has
continued until yesterday. The mass of the people commenced a
systematic search for the dead body, while Wickersham was
despatched to arrest Henry Trailor at the Grove, and Jim Maxcy to
Warren to arrest William. On Monday last, Henry was brought in,
and showed an evident inclination to insinuate that he knew
Fisher to be dead, and that Arch. and William had killed him.
He said he guessed the body could be found in Spring Creek,
between the Beardstown road and Hickox’s mill. Away the people
swept like a herd of buffalo, and cut down Hickox’s mill-dam
nolens volens, to draw the water out of the pond, and then went
up and down and down and up the creek, fishing and raking, and
raking and ducking and diving for two days, and, after all, no
dead body found.

In the meantime a sort of scuffling-ground had been found in the
brush in the angle, or point, where the road leading into the
woods past the brewery and the one leading in past the brick-yard
meet. From the scuffle-ground was the sign of something about
the size of a man having been dragged to the edge of the thicket,
where it joined the track of some small-wheeled carriage drawn by
one horse, as shown by the road-tracks. The carriage-track led
off toward Spring Creek. Near this drag-trail Dr. Merryman found
two hairs, which, after a long scientific examination, he
pronounced to be triangular human hairs, which term, he says,
includes within it the whiskers, the hair growing under the arms
and on other parts of the body; and he judged that these two were
of the whiskers, because the ends were cut, showing that they had
flourished in the neighborhood of the razor’s operations. On
Thursday last Jim Maxcy brought in William Trailor from Warren.
On the same day Arch. was arrested and put in jail. Yesterday
(Friday) William was put upon his examining trial before May and
Lovely. Archibald and Henry were both present. Lamborn
prosecuted, and Logan, Baker, and your humble servant defended.
A great many witnesses were introduced and examined, but I shall
only mention those whose testimony seemed most important. The
first of these was Captain Ransdell. He swore that when William
and Henry left Springfield for home on Tuesday before mentioned
they did not take the direct route,–which, you know, leads by
the butcher shop,–but that they followed the street north until
they got opposite, or nearly opposite, May’s new house, after
which he could not see them from where he stood; and it was
afterwards proved that in about an hour after they started, they
came into the street by the butcher shop from toward the brick-
yard. Dr. Merryman and others swore to what is stated about the
scuffle-ground, drag-trail, whiskers, and carriage tracks. Henry
was then introduced by the prosecution. He swore that when they
started for home they went out north, as Ransdell stated, and
turned down west by the brick-yard into the woods, and there met
Archibald; that they proceeded a small distance farther, when he
was placed as a sentinel to watch for and announce the approach
of any one that might happen that way; that William and Arch.
took the dearborn out of the road a small distance to the edge of
the thicket, where they stopped, and he saw them lift the body of
a man into it; that they then moved off with the carriage in the
direction of Hickox’s mill, and he loitered about for something
like an hour, when William returned with the carriage, but
without Arch., and said they had put him in a safe place; that
they went somehow he did not know exactly how–into the road
close to the brewery, and proceeded on to Clary’s Grove. He also
stated that some time during the day William told him that he and
Arch. had killed Fisher the evening before; that the way they
did it was by him William knocking him down with a club, and
Arch. then choking him to death.

An old man from Warren, called Dr. Gilmore, was then introduced
on the part of the defense. He swore that he had known Fisher
for several years; that Fisher had resided at his house a long
time at each of two different spells–once while he built a barn
for him, and once while he was doctored for some chronic disease;
that two or three years ago Fisher had a serious hurt in his head
by the bursting of a gun, since which he had been subject to
continued bad health and occasional aberration of mind. He also
stated that on last Tuesday, being the same day that Maxcy
arrested William Trailor, he (the doctor) was from home in the
early part of the day, and on his return, about eleven o’clock,
found Fisher at his house in bed, and apparently very unwell;
that he asked him how he came from Springfield; that Fisher said
he had come by Peoria, and also told of several other places he
had been at more in the direction of Peoria, which showed that he
at the time of speaking did not know where he had been wandering
about in a state of derangement. He further stated that in about
two hours he received a note from one of Trailor’s friends,
advising him of his arrest, and requesting him to go on to
Springfield as a witness, to testify as to the state of Fisher’s
health in former times; that he immediately set off, calling up
two of his neighbors as company, and, riding all evening and all
night, overtook Maxcy and William at Lewiston in Fulton County;
that Maxcy refusing to discharge Trailor upon his statement, his
two neighbors returned and he came on to Springfield. Some
question being made as to whether the doctor’s story was not a
fabrication, several acquaintances of his (among whom was the
same postmaster who wrote Keys, as before mentioned) were
introduced as sort of compurgators, who swore that they knew the
doctor to be of good character for truth and veracity, and
generally of good character in every way.

Here the testimony ended, and the Trailors were discharged, Arch.
and William expressing both in word and manner their entire
confidence that Fisher would be found alive at the doctor’s by
Galloway, Mallory, and Myers, who a day before had been
despatched for that purpose; which Henry still protested that no
power on earth could ever show Fisher alive. Thus stands this
curious affair. When the doctor’s story was first made public,
it was amusing to scan and contemplate the countenances and hear
the remarks of those who had been actively in search for the dead
body: some looked quizzical, some melancholy, and some furiously
angry. Porter, who had been very active, swore he always knew
the man was not dead, and that he had not stirred an inch to hunt
for him; Langford, who had taken the lead in cutting down
Hickox’s mill-dam, and wanted to hang Hickox for objecting,
looked most awfully woebegone: he seemed the “victim of
unrequited affection,” as represented in the comic almanacs we
used to laugh over; and Hart, the little drayman that hauled
Molly home once, said it was too damned bad to have so much
trouble, and no hanging after all.

I commenced this letter on yesterday, since which I received
yours of the 13th. I stick to my promise to come to Louisville.
Nothing new here except what I have written. I have not seen
_____ since my last trip, and I am going out there as soon as I
mail this letter.

Yours forever,


June 25, 1841

It having been charged in some of the public prints that Harry
Wilton, late United States marshal for the district of Illinois,
had used his office for political effect, in the appointment of
deputies for the taking of the census for the year 1840, we, the
undersigned, were called upon by Mr. Wilton to examine the papers
in his possession relative to these appointments, and to
ascertain therefrom the correctness or incorrectness of such
charge. We accompanied Mr. Wilton to a room, and examined the
matter as fully as we could with the means afforded us. The only
sources of information bearing on the subject which were
submitted to us were the letters, etc., recommending and opposing
the various appointments made, and Mr. Wilton’s verbal statements
concerning the same. From these letters, etc., it appears that
in some instances appointments were made in accordance with the
recommendations of leading Whigs, and in opposition to those of
leading Democrats; among which instances the appointments at
Scott, Wayne, Madison, and Lawrence are the strongest. According
to Mr. Wilton’s statement of the seventy-six appointments we
examined, fifty-four were of Democrats, eleven of Whigs, and
eleven of unknown politics.

The chief ground of complaint against Mr. Wilton, as we had
understood it, was because of his appointment of so many
Democratic candidates for the Legislature, thus giving them a
decided advantage over their Whig opponents; and consequently our
attention was directed rather particularly to that point. We
found that there were many such appointments, among which were
those in Tazewell, McLean, Iroquois, Coles, Menard, Wayne,
Washington, Fayette, etc.; and we did not learn that there was
one instance in which a Whig candidate for the Legislature had
been appointed. There was no written evidence before us showing
us at what time those appointments were made; but Mr. Wilton
stated that they all with one exception were made before those
appointed became candidates for the Legislature, and the letters,
etc., recommending them all bear date before, and most of them
long before, those appointed were publicly announced candidates.

We give the foregoing naked facts and draw no conclusions from



BLOOMINGTON, ILL., September 27, 1841.

Miss Mary Speed, Louisville, Ky.

By the way, a fine example was presented on board the boat for
contemplating the effect of condition upon human happiness. A
gentleman had purchased twelve negroes in different parts of
Kentucky, and was taking them to a farm in the South. They were
chained six and six together. A small iron clevis was around the
left wrist of each, and this fastened to the main chain by a
shorter one, at a convenient distance from the others, so that
the negroes were strung together precisely like so many fish upon
a trotline. In this condition they were being separated forever
from the scenes of their childhood, their friends, their fathers
and mothers, and brothers and sisters, and many of them from
their wives and children, and going into perpetual slavery where
the lash of the master is proverbially more ruthless and
unrelenting than any other where; and yet amid all these
distressing circumstances, as we would think them, they were the
most cheerful and apparently happy creatures on board. One,
whose offence for which he had been sold was an overfondness for
his wife, played the fiddle almost continually, and the others
danced, sang, cracked jokes, and played various games with cards
from day to day. How true it is that ‘God tempers the wind to
the shorn lamb,’ or in other words, that he renders the worst of
human conditions tolerable, while he permits the best to be
nothing better than tolerable. To return to the narrative: When
we reached Springfield I stayed but one day, when I started on
this tedious circuit where I now am. Do you remember my going to
the city, while I was in Kentucky, to have a tooth extracted, and
making a failure of it? Well, that same old tooth got to paining
me so much that about a week since I had it torn out, bringing
with it a bit of the jawbone, the consequence of which is that my
mouth is now so sore that I can neither talk nor eat.

Your sincere friend,



January 3?, 1842.

MY DEAR SPEED:–Feeling, as you know I do, the deepest solicitude
for the success of the enterprise you are engaged in, I adopt
this as the last method I can adopt to aid you, in case (which
God forbid!) you shall need any aid. I do not place what I am
going to say on paper because I can say it better that way than I
could by word of mouth, but, were I to say it orally before we
part, most likely you would forget it at the very time when it
might do you some good. As I think it reasonable that you will
feel very badly some time between this and the final consummation
of your purpose, it is intended that you shall read this just at
such a time. Why I say it is reasonable that you will feel very
badly yet, is because of three special causes added to the
general one which I shall mention.

The general cause is, that you are naturally of a nervous
temperament; and this I say from what I have seen of you
personally, and what you have told me concerning your mother at
various times, and concerning your brother William at the time
his wife died. The first special cause is your exposure to bad
weather on your journey, which my experience clearly proves to be
very severe on defective nerves. The second is the absence of
all business and conversation of friends, which might divert your
mind, give it occasional rest from the intensity of thought which
will sometimes wear the sweetest idea threadbare and turn it to
the bitterness of death. The third is the rapid and near
approach of that crisis on which all your thoughts and feelings

If from all these causes you shall escape and go through
triumphantly, without another “twinge of the soul,” I shall be
most happily but most egregiously deceived. If, on the contrary,
you shall, as I expect you will at sometime, be agonized and
distressed, let me, who have some reason to speak with judgment
on such a subject, beseech you to ascribe it to the causes I have
mentioned, and not to some false and ruinous suggestion of the

“But,” you will say, “do not your causes apply to every one
engaged in a like undertaking?” By no means. The particular
causes, to a greater or less extent, perhaps do apply in all
cases; but the general one,–nervous debility, which is the key
and conductor of all the particular ones, and without which they
would be utterly harmless,–though it does pertain to you, does
not pertain to one in a thousand. It is out of this that the
painful difference between you and the mass of the world springs.

I know what the painful point with you is at all times when you
are unhappy; it is an apprehension that you do not love her as
you should. What nonsense! How came you to court her? Was it
because you thought she deserved it, and that you had given her
reason to expect it? If it was for that why did not the same
reason make you court Ann Todd, and at least twenty others of
whom you can think, and to whom it would apply with greater force
than to her? Did you court her for her wealth? Why, you know she
had none. But you say you reasoned yourself into it. What do
you mean by that? Was it not that you found yourself unable to
reason yourself out of it? Did you not think, and partly form the
purpose, of courting her the first time you ever saw her or heard
of her? What had reason to do with it at that early stage? There
was nothing at that time for reason to work upon. Whether she
was moral, amiable, sensible, or even of good character, you did
not, nor could then know, except, perhaps, you might infer the
last from the company you found her in.

All you then did or could know of her was her personal appearance
and deportment; and these, if they impress at all, impress the
heart, and not the head.

Say candidly, were not those heavenly black eyes the whole basis
of all your early reasoning on the subject? After you and I had
once been at the residence, did you not go and take me all the
way to Lexington and back, for no other purpose but to get to see
her again, on our return on that evening to take a trip for that
express object? What earthly consideration would you take to find
her scouting and despising you, and giving herself up to another?
But of this you have no apprehension; and therefore you cannot
bring it home to your feelings.

I shall be so anxious about you that I shall want you to write by
every mail. Your friend,



SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, February 3, 1842.

DEAR SPEED:–Your letter of the 25th January came to hand to-day.
You well know that I do not feel my own sorrows much more keenly
than I do yours, when I know of them; and yet I assure you I was
not much hurt by what you wrote me of your excessively bad
feeling at the time you wrote. Not that I am less capable of
sympathizing with you now than ever, not that I am less your
friend than ever, but because I hope and believe that your
present anxiety and distress about her health and her life must
and will forever banish those horrid doubts which I know you
sometimes felt as to the truth of your affection for her. If
they can once and forever be removed (and I almost feel a
presentiment that the Almighty has sent your present affliction
expressly for that object), surely nothing can come in their
stead to fill their immeasurable measure of misery. The death-
scenes of those we love are surely painful enough; but these we
are prepared for and expect to see: they happen to all, and all
know they must happen. Painful as they are, they are not an
unlooked for sorrow. Should she, as you fear, be destined to an
early grave, it is indeed a great consolation to know that she is
so well prepared to meet it. Her religion, which you once
disliked so much, I will venture you now prize most highly. But
I hope your melancholy bodings as to her early death are not well
founded. I even hope that ere this reaches you she will have
returned with improved and still improving health, and that you
will have met her, and forgotten the sorrows of the past in the
enjoyments of the present. I would say more if I could, but it
seems that I have said enough. It really appears to me that you
yourself ought to rejoice, and not sorrow, at this indubitable
evidence of your undying affection for her. Why, Speed, if you
did not love her although you might not wish her death, you would
most certainly be resigned to it. Perhaps this point is no
longer a question with you, and my pertinacious dwelling upon it
is a rude intrusion upon your feelings. If so, you must pardon
me. You know the hell I have suffered on that point, and how
tender I am upon it. You know I do not mean wrong. I have been
quite clear of “hypo” since you left, even better than I was
along in the fall. I have seen ______ but once. She seemed very
cheerful, and so I said nothing to her about what we spoke of.

Old Uncle Billy Herndon is dead, and it is said this evening that
Uncle Ben Ferguson will not live. This, I believe, is all the
news, and enough at that unless it were better. Write me
immediately on the receipt of this. Your friend, as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, February 13, 1842.

DEAR SPEED:–Yours of the 1st instant came to hand three or four
days ago. When this shall reach you, you will have been Fanny’s
husband several days. You know my desire to befriend you is
everlasting; that I will never cease while I know how to do
anything. But you will always hereafter be on ground that I have
never occupied, and consequently, if advice were needed, I might
advise wrong. I do fondly hope, however, that you will never
again need any comfort from abroad. But should I be mistaken in
this, should excessive pleasure still be accompanied with a
painful counterpart at times, still let me urge you, as I have
ever done, to remember, in the depth and even agony of
despondency, that very shortly you are to feel well again. I am
now fully convinced that you love her as ardently as you are
capable of loving. Your ever being happy in her presence, and
your intense anxiety about her health, if there were nothing
else, would place this beyond all dispute in my mind. I incline
to think it probable that your nerves will fail you occasionally
for a while; but once you get them firmly guarded now that
trouble is over forever. I think, if I were you, in case my mind
were not exactly right, I would avoid being idle. I would
immediately engage in some business, or go to making preparations
for it, which would be the same thing. If you went through the
ceremony calmly, or even with sufficient composure not to excite
alarm in any present, you are safe beyond question, and in two or
three months, to say the most, will be the happiest of men.

I would desire you to give my particular respects to Fanny; but
perhaps you will not wish her to know you have received this,
lest she should desire to see it. Make her write me an answer to
my last letter to her; at any rate I would set great value upon a
note or letter from her. Write me whenever you have leisure.
Yours forever,
P. S.–I have been quite a man since you left.


SPRINGFIELD, ILL., Feb. 16, 1842.


Yours of the 10th is duly received. Judge Logan and myself are
doing business together now, and we are willing to attend to your
cases as you propose. As to the terms, we are willing to attend
each case you prepare and send us for $10 (when there shall be no
opposition) to be sent in advance, or you to know that it is
safe. It takes $5.75 of cost to start upon, that is, $1.75 to
clerk, and $2 to each of two publishers of papers. Judge Logan
thinks it will take the balance of $20 to carry a case through.
This must be advanced from time to time as the services are
performed, as the officers will not act without. I do not know
whether you can be admitted an attorney of the Federal court in
your absence or not; nor is it material, as the business can be
done in our names.

Thinking it may aid you a little, I send you one of our blank
forms of Petitions. It, you will see, is framed to be sworn to
before the Federal court clerk, and, in your cases, will have
[to] be so far changed as to be sworn to before the clerk of your
circuit court; and his certificate must be accompanied with his
official seal. The schedules, too, must be attended to. Be sure
that they contain the creditors’ names, their residences, the
amounts due each, the debtors’ names, their residences, and the
amounts they owe, also all property and where located.

Also be sure that the schedules are all signed by the applicants
as well as the Petition. Publication will have to be made here
in one paper, and in one nearest the residence of the applicant.
Write us in each case where the last advertisement is to be sent,
whether to you or to what paper.

I believe I have now said everything that can be of any
advantage. Your friend as ever,


February 22, 1842.

I never encourage deceit, and falsehood, especially if you have
got a bad memory, is the worst enemy a fellow can have. The fact
is truth is your truest friend, no matter what the circumstances
are. Notwithstanding this copy-book preamble, my boy, I am
inclined to suggest a little prudence on your part. You see I
have a congenital aversion to failure, and the sudden
announcement to your Uncle Andrew of the success of your “lamp
rubbing” might possibly prevent your passing the severe physical
examination to which you will be subjected in order to enter the
Military Academy. You see I should like to have a perfect
soldier credited to dear old Illinois–no broken bones, scalp
wounds, etc. So I think it might be wise to hand this letter
from me in to your good uncle through his room-window after he
has had a comfortable dinner, and watch its effect from the top
of the pigeon-house.

I have just told the folks here in Springfield on this 111th
anniversary of the birth of him whose name, mightiest in the
cause of civil liberty, still mightiest in the cause of moral
reformation, we mention in solemn awe, in naked, deathless
splendor, that the one victory we can ever call complete will be
that one which proclaims that there is not one slave or one
drunkard on the face of God’s green earth. Recruit for this

Now, boy, on your march, don’t you go and forget the old maxim
that “one drop of honey catches more flies than a half-gallon of
gall.” Load your musket with this maxim, and smoke it in your


Although the temperance cause has been in progress for near
twenty years, it is apparent to all that it is just now being
crowned with a degree of success hitherto unparalleled.

The list of its friends is daily swelled by the additions of
fifties, of hundreds, and of thousands. The cause itself seems
suddenly transformed from a cold abstract theory to a living,
breathing, active, and powerful chieftain, going forth
“conquering and to conquer.” The citadels of his great adversary
are daily being stormed and dismantled; his temple and his
altars, where the rites of his idolatrous worship have long been
performed, and where human sacrifices have long been wont to be
made, are daily desecrated and deserted. The triumph of the
conqueror’s fame is sounding from hill to hill, from sea to sea,
and from land to land, and calling millions to his standard at a

For this new and splendid success we heartily rejoice. That that
success is so much greater now than heretofore is doubtless owing
to rational causes; and if we would have it continue, we shall do
well to inquire what those causes are.

The warfare heretofore waged against the demon intemperance has
somehow or other been erroneous. Either the champions engaged or
the tactics they adopted have not been the most proper. These
champions for the most part have been preachers, lawyers, and
hired agents. Between these and the mass of mankind there is a
want of approachability, if the term be admissible, partially, at
least, fatal to their success. They are supposed to have no
sympathy of feeling or interest with those very persons whom it
is their object to convince and persuade.

And again, it is so common and so easy to ascribe motives to men
of these classes other than those they profess to act upon. The
preacher, it is said, advocates temperance because he is a
fanatic, and desires a union of the Church and State; the lawyer
from his pride and vanity of hearing himself speak; and the hired
agent for his salary. But when one who has long been known as a
victim of intemperance bursts the fetters that have bound him,
and appears before his neighbors “clothed and in his right mind,”
a redeemed specimen of long-lost humanity, and stands up, with
tears of joy trembling in his eyes, to tell of the miseries once
endured, now to be endured no more forever; of his once naked and
starving children, now clad and fed comfortably; of a wife long
weighed down with woe, weeping, and a broken heart, now restored
to health, happiness, and a renewed affection; and how easily it
is all done, once it is resolved to be done; how simple his
language! there is a logic and an eloquence in it that few with
human feelings can resist. They cannot say that he desires a
union of Church and State, for he is not a church member; they
cannot say he is vain of hearing himself speak, for his whole
demeanor shows he would gladly avoid speaking at all; they cannot
say he speaks for pay, for he receives none, and asks for none.
Nor can his sincerity in any way be doubted, or his sympathy for
those he would persuade to imitate his example be denied.

In my judgment, it is to the battles of this new class of
champions that our late success is greatly, perhaps chiefly,
owing. But, had the old-school champions themselves been of the
most wise selecting, was their system of tactics the most
judicious? It seems to me it was not. Too much denunciation
against dram-sellers and dram-drinkers was indulged in. This I
think was both impolitic and unjust. It was impolitic, because
it is not much in the nature of man to be driven to anything;
still less to be driven about that which is exclusively his own
business; and least of all where such driving is to be submitted
to at the expense of pecuniary interest or burning appetite.
When the dram-seller and drinker were incessantly told not in
accents of entreaty and persuasion, diffidently addressed by
erring man to an erring brother, but in the thundering tones of
anathema and denunciation with which the lordly judge often
groups together all the crimes of the felon’s life, and thrusts
them in his face just ere he passes sentence of death upon him
that they were the authors of all the vice and misery and crime
in the land; that they were the manufacturers and material of all
the thieves and robbers and murderers that infest the earth; that
their houses were the workshops of the devil; and that their
persons should be shunned by all the good and virtuous, as moral
pestilences–I say, when they were told all this, and in this
way, it is not wonderful that they were slow to acknowledge the
truth of such denunciations, and to join the ranks of their
denouncers in a hue and cry against themselves.

To have expected them to do otherwise than they did to have
expected them not to meet denunciation with denunciation,
crimination with crimination, and anathema with anathema–was to
expect a reversal of human nature, which is God’s decree and can
never be reversed.

When the conduct of men is designed to be influenced, persuasion,
kind, unassuming persuasion, should ever be adopted. It is an
old and a true maxim that “a drop of honey catches more flies
than a gallon of gall.” So with men. If you would win a man to
your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.
Therein is a drop of honey that catches his heart, which, say
what he will, is the great highroad to his reason; and which,
when once gained, you will find but little trouble in convincing
his judgment of the justice of your cause, if indeed that cause
really be a just one. On the contrary, assume to dictate to his
judgment, or to command his action, or to mark him as one to be
shunned and despised, and he will retreat within himself, close
all the avenues to his head and his heart; and though your cause
be naked truth itself, transformed to the heaviest lance, harder
than steel, and sharper than steel can be made, and though you
throw it with more than herculean force and precision, you shall
be no more able to pierce him than to penetrate the hard shell of
a tortoise with a rye straw. Such is man, and so must he be
understood by those who would lead him, even to his own best

On this point the Washingtonians greatly excel the temperance
advocates of former times. Those whom they desire to convince
and persuade are their old friends and companions. They know
they are not demons, nor even the worst of men; they know that
generally they are kind, generous, and charitable even beyond the
example of their more staid and sober neighbors. They are
practical philanthropists; and they glow with a generous and
brotherly zeal that mere theorizers are incapable of feeling.
Benevolence and charity possess their hearts entirely; and out of
the abundance of their hearts their tongues give utterance; “love
through all their actions runs, and all their words are mild.”
In this spirit they speak and act, and in the same they are heard
and regarded. And when such is the temper of the advocate, and
such of the audience, no good cause can be unsuccessful. But I
have said that denunciations against dramsellers and dram-
drinkers are unjust, as well as impolitic. Let us see. I have
not inquired at what period of time the use of intoxicating
liquors commenced; nor is it important to know. It is sufficient
that, to all of us who now inhabit the world, the practice of
drinking them is just as old as the world itself that is, we have
seen the one just as long as we have seen the other. When all
such of us as have now reached the years of maturity first opened
our eyes upon the stage of existence, we found intoxicating
liquor recognized by everybody, used by everybody, repudiated by
nobody. It commonly entered into the first draught of the infant
and the last draught of the dying man. From the sideboard of the
parson down to the ragged pocket of the houseless loafer, it was
constantly found. Physicians proscribed it in this, that, and
the other disease; government provided it for soldiers and
sailors; and to have a rolling or raising, a husking or
“hoedown,” anywhere about without it was positively insufferable.
So, too, it was everywhere a respectable article of manufacture
and merchandise. The making of it was regarded as an honorable
livelihood, and he who could make most was the most enterprising
and respectable. Large and small manufactories of it were
everywhere erected, in which all the earthly goods of their
owners were invested. Wagons drew it from town to town; boats
bore it from clime to clime, and the winds wafted it from nation
to nation; and merchants bought and sold it, by wholesale and
retail, with precisely the same feelings on the part of the
seller, buyer, and bystander as are felt at the selling and
buying of ploughs, beef, bacon, or any other of the real
necessaries of life. Universal public opinion not only tolerated
but recognized and adopted its use.

It is true that even then it was known and acknowledged that many
were greatly injured by it; but none seemed to think the injury
arose from the use of a bad thing, but from the abuse of a very
good thing. The victims of it were to be pitied and
compassionated, just as are the heirs of consumption and other
hereditary diseases. Their failing was treated as a misfortune,
and not as a crime, or even as a disgrace. If, then, what I have
been saying is true, is it wonderful that some should think and
act now as all thought and acted twenty years ago? and is it just
to assail, condemn, or despise them for doing so? The universal
sense of mankind on any subject is an argument, or at least an
influence, not easily overcome. The success of the argument in
favor of the existence of an overruling Providence mainly depends
upon that sense; and men ought not in justice to be denounced for
yielding to it in any case, or giving it up slowly, especially
when they are backed by interest, fixed habits, or burning

Another error, as it seems to me, into which the old reformers
fell, was the position that all habitual drunkards were utterly
incorrigible, and therefore must be turned adrift and damned
without remedy in order that the grace of temperance might
abound, to the temperate then, and to all mankind some hundreds
of years thereafter. There is in this some thing so repugnant to
humanity, so uncharitable, so cold-blooded and feelingless, that
it, never did nor ever can enlist the enthusiasm of a popular
cause. We could not love the man who taught it we could not hear
him with patience. The heart could not throw open its portals to
it, the generous man could not adopt it–it could not mix with
his blood. It looked so fiendishly selfish, so like throwing
fathers and brothers overboard to lighten the boat for our
security, that the noble-minded shrank from the manifest meanness
of the thing. And besides this, the benefits of a reformation to
be effected by such a system were too remote in point of time to
warmly engage many in its behalf. Few can be induced to labor
exclusively for posterity, and none will do it enthusiastically.
–Posterity has done nothing for us; and, theorize on it as we
may, practically we shall do very little for it, unless we are
made to think we are at the same time doing something for

What an ignorance of human nature does it exhibit to ask or to
expect a whole community to rise up and labor for the temporal
happiness of others, after themselves shall be consigned to the
dust, a majority of which community take no pains whatever to
secure their own eternal welfare at no more distant day! Great
distance in either time or space has wonderful power to lull and
render quiescent the human mind. Pleasures to be enjoyed, or
pains to be endured, after we shall be dead and gone are but
little regarded even in our own cases, and much less in the cases
of others. Still, in addition to this there is something so
ludicrous in promises of good or threats of evil a great way off
as to render the whole subject with which they are connected
easily turned into ridicule. “Better lay down that spade you are
stealing, Paddy; if you don’t you’ll pay for it at the day of
judgment.” “Be the powers, if ye ‘ll credit me so long I’ll take
another jist.”

By the Washingtonians this system of consigning the habitual
drunkard to hopeless ruin is repudiated. They adopt a more
enlarged philanthropy; they go for present as well as future
good. They labor for all now living, as well as hereafter to
live. They teach hope to all-despair to none. As applying to
their cause, they deny the doctrine of unpardonable sin; as in
Christianity it is taught, so in this they teach–“While–While
the lamp holds out to burn, The vilest sinner may return.” And,
what is a matter of more profound congratulation, they, by
experiment upon experiment and example upon example, prove the
maxim to be no less true in the one case than in the other. On
every hand we behold those who but yesterday were the chief of
sinners, now the chief apostles of the cause. Drunken devils are
cast out by ones, by sevens, by legions; and their unfortunate
victims, like the poor possessed who were redeemed from their
long and lonely wanderings in the tombs, are publishing to the
ends of the earth how great things have been done for them.

To these new champions and this new system of tactics our late
success is mainly owing, and to them we must mainly look for the
final consummation. The ball is now rolling gloriously on, and
none are so able as they to increase its speed and its bulk, to
add to its momentum and its magnitude–even though unlearned in
letters, for this task none are so well educated. To fit them
for this work they have been taught in the true school. They
have been in that gulf from which they would teach others the
means of escape. They have passed that prison wall which others
have long declared impassable; and who that has not shall dare to
weigh opinions with them as to the mode of passing?

But if it be true, as I have insisted, that those who have
suffered by intemperance personally, and have reformed, are the
most powerful and efficient instruments to push the reformation
to ultimate success, it does not follow that those who have not
suffered have no part left them to perform. Whether or not the
world would be vastly benefited by a total and final banishment
from it of all intoxicating drinks seems to me not now an open
question. Three fourths of mankind confess the affirmative with
their tongues, and, I believe, all the rest acknowledge it in
their hearts.

Ought any, then, to refuse their aid in doing what good the good
of the whole demands? Shall he who cannot do much be for that
reason excused if he do nothing? “But,” says one, “what good can
I do by signing the pledge? I never drank, even without
signing.” This question has already been asked and answered more
than a million of times. Let it be answered once more. For the
man suddenly or in any other way to break off from the use of
drams, who has indulged in them for a long course of years and
until his appetite for them has grown ten or a hundredfold
stronger and more craving than any natural appetite can be,
requires a most powerful moral effort. In such an undertaking he
needs every moral support and influence that can possibly be
brought to his aid and thrown around him. And not only so, but
every moral prop should be taken from whatever argument might
rise in his mind to lure him to his backsliding. When he casts
his eyes around him, he should be able to see all that he
respects, all that he admires, all that he loves, kindly and
anxiously pointing him onward, and none beckoning him back to his
former miserable “wallowing in the mire.”

But it is said by some that men will think and act for
themselves; that none will disuse spirits or anything else
because his neighbors do; and that moral influence is not that
powerful engine contended for. Let us examine this. Let me ask
the man who could maintain this position most stiffly, what
compensation he will accept to go to church some Sunday and sit
during the sermon with his wife’s bonnet upon his head? Not a
trifle, I’ll venture. And why not? There would be nothing
irreligious in it, nothing immoral, nothing uncomfortable–then
why not? Is it not because there would be something egregiously
unfashionable in it? Then it is the influence of fashion; and
what is the influence of fashion but the influence that other
people’s actions have on our actions–the strong inclination each
of us feels to do as we see all our neighbors do? Nor is the
influence of fashion confined to any particular thing or class of
things; it is just as strong on one subject as another. Let us
make it as unfashionable to withhold our names from the
temperance cause as for husbands to wear their wives’ bonnets to
church, and instances will be just as rare in the one case as the

“But,” say some, “we are no drunkards, and we shall not
acknowledge ourselves such by joining a reformed drunkard’s
society, whatever our influence might be.” Surely no Christian
will adhere to this objection. If they believe as they profess,
that Omnipotence condescended to take on himself the form of
sinful man, and as such to die an ignominious death for their
sakes, surely they will not refuse submission to the infinitely
lesser condescension, for the temporal, and perhaps eternal,
salvation of a large, erring, and unfortunate class of their
fellow-creatures. Nor is the condescension very great. In my
judgment such of us as have never fallen victims have been spared
more by the absence of appetite than from any mental or moral
superiority over those who have. Indeed, I believe if we take
habitual drunkards as a class, their heads and their hearts will
bear an advantageous comparison with those of any other class.
There seems ever to have been a proneness in the brilliant and
warm-blooded to fall into this vice–the demon of intemperance
ever seems to have delighted in sucking the blood of genius and
of generosity. What one of us but can call to mind some
relative, more promising in youth than all his fellows, who has
fallen a sacrifice to his rapacity? He ever seems to have gone
forth like the Egyptian angel of death, commissioned to slay, if
not the first, the fairest born of every family. Shall he now be
arrested in his desolating career? In that arrest all can give
aid that will; and who shall be excused that can and will not?
Far around as human breath has ever blown he keeps our fathers,
our brothers, our sons, and our friends prostrate in the chains
of moral death. To all the living everywhere we cry, “Come sound
the moral trump, that these may rise and stand up an exceeding
great army.” “Come from the four winds, O breath! and breathe
upon these slain that they may live.” If the relative grandeur
of revolutions shall be estimated by the great amount of human
misery they alleviate, and the small amount they inflict, then
indeed will this be the grandest the world shall ever have seen.

Of our political revolution of ’76 we are all justly proud. It
has given us a degree of political freedom far exceeding that of
any other nation of the earth. In it the world has found a
solution of the long-mooted problem as to the capability of man
to govern himself. In it was the germ which has vegetated, and
still is to grow and expand into the universal liberty of
mankind. But, with all these glorious results, past, present,
and to come, it had its evils too. It breathed forth famine,
swam in blood, and rode in fire; and long, long after, the
orphan’s cry and the widow’s wail continued to break the sad
silence that ensued. These were the price, the inevitable price,
paid for the blessings it bought.

Turn now to the temperance revolution. In it we shall find a
stronger bondage broken, a viler slavery manumitted, a greater
tyrant deposed; in it, more of want supplied, more disease
healed, more sorrow assuaged. By it no Orphans starving, no
widows weeping. By it none wounded in feeling, none injured in
interest; even the drammaker and dram-seller will have glided
into other occupations so gradually as never to have felt the
change, and will stand ready to join all others in the universal
song of gladness. And what a noble ally this to the cause of
political freedom, with such an aid its march cannot fail to be
on and on, till every son of earth shall drink in rich fruition
the sorrow-quenching draughts of perfect liberty. Happy day
when-all appetites controlled, all poisons subdued, all matter
subjected-mind, all-conquering mind, shall live and move, the
monarch of the world. Glorious consummation! Hail, fall of
fury! Reign of reason, all hail!

And when the victory shall be complete, when there shall be
neither a slave nor a drunkard on the earth, how proud the title
of that land which may truly claim to be the birthplace and the
cradle of both those revolutions that shall have ended in that
victory. How nobly distinguished that people who shall have
planted and nurtured to maturity both the political and moral
freedom of their species.

This is the one hundred and tenth anniversary of the birthday of
Washington; we are met to celebrate this day. Washington is the
mightiest name of earth long since mightiest in the cause of
civil liberty, still mightiest in moral reformation. On that
name no eulogy is expected. It cannot be. To add brightness to
the sun or glory to the name of Washington is alike impossible.
Let none attempt it. In solemn awe pronounce the name, and in its
naked deathless splendor leave it shining on.


SPRINGFIELD, February 25, 1842.

DEAR SPEED:–Yours of the 16th instant, announcing that Miss
Fanny and you are “no more twain, but one flesh,” reached me this
morning. I have no way of telling you how much happiness I wish
you both, though I believe you both can conceive it. I feel
somewhat jealous of both of you now: you will be so exclusively
concerned for one another, that I shall be forgotten entirely.
My acquaintance with Miss Fanny (I call her this, lest you should
think I am speaking of your mother) was too short for me to
reasonably hope to long be remembered by her; and still I am sure
I shall not forget her soon. Try if you cannot remind her of that
debt she owes me–and be sure you do not interfere to prevent her
paying it.

I regret to learn that you have resolved to not return to
Illinois. I shall be very lonesome without you. How miserably
things seem to be arranged in this world! If we have no friends,
we have no pleasure; and if we have them, we are sure to lose
them, and be doubly pained by the loss. I did hope she and you
would make your home here; but I own I have no right to insist.
You owe obligations to her ten thousand times more sacred than
you can owe to others, and in that light let them be respected
and observed. It is natural that she should desire to remain with
her relatives and friends. As to friends, however, she could not
need them anywhere: she would have them in abundance here.

Give my kind remembrance to Mr. Williamson and his family,
particularly Miss Elizabeth; also to your mother, brother, and
sisters. Ask little Eliza Davis if she will ride to town with me
if I come there again. And finally, give Fanny a double
reciprocation of all the love she sent me. Write me often, and
believe me

Yours forever,


P. S. Poor Easthouse is gone at last. He died awhile before day
this morning. They say he was very loath to die….



SPRINGFIELD, February 25,1842.

DEAR SPEED:–I received yours of the 12th written the day you
went down to William’s place, some days since, but delayed
answering it till I should receive the promised one of the 16th,
which came last night. I opened the letter with intense anxiety
and trepidation; so much so, that, although it turned out better
than I expected, I have hardly yet, at a distance of ten hours,
become calm.

I tell you, Speed, our forebodings (for which you and I are
peculiar) are all the worst sort of nonsense. I fancied, from
the time I received your letter of Saturday, that the one of
Wednesday was never to come, and yet it did come, and what is
more, it is perfectly clear, both from its tone and handwriting,
that you were much happier, or, if you think the term preferable,
less miserable, when you wrote it than when you wrote the last
one before. You had so obviously improved at the very time I so
much fancied you would have grown worse. You say that something
indescribably horrible and alarming still haunts you. You will
not say that three months from now, I will venture. When your
nerves once get steady now, the whole trouble will be over
forever. Nor should you become impatient at their being even
very slow in becoming steady. Again you say, you much fear that
that Elysium of which you have dreamed so much is never to be
realized. Well, if it shall not, I dare swear it will not be the
fault of her who is now your wife. I now have no doubt that it
is the peculiar misfortune of both you and me to dream dreams of
Elysium far exceeding all that anything earthly can realize. Far
short of your dreams as you may be, no woman could do more to
realize them than that same black-eyed Fanny. If you could but
contemplate her through my imagination, it would appear
ridiculous to you that any one should for a moment think of being
unhappy with her. My old father used to have a saying that “If
you make a bad bargain, hug it all the tighter”; and it occurs to
me that if the bargain you have just closed can possibly be
called a bad one, it is certainly the most pleasant one for
applying that maxim to which my fancy can by any effort picture.

I write another letter, enclosing this, which you can show her,
if she desires it. I do this because she would think strangely,
perhaps, should you tell her that you received no letters from
me, or, telling her you do, refuse to let her see them. I close
this, entertaining the confident hope that every successive
letter I shall have from you (which I here pray may not be few,
nor far between) may show you possessing a more steady hand and
cheerful heart than the last preceding it.
As ever, your friend,



SPRINGFIELD, March 27, 1842

DEAR SPEED:–Yours of the 10th instant was received three or four
days since. You know I am sincere when I tell you the pleasure
its contents gave me was, and is, inexpressible. As to your farm
matter, I have no sympathy with you. I have no farm, nor ever
expect to have, and consequently have not studied the subject
enough to be much interested with it. I can only say that I am
glad you are satisfied and pleased with it. But on that other
subject, to me of the most intense interest whether in joy or
sorrow, I never had the power to withhold my sympathy from you.
It cannot be told how it now thrills me with joy to hear you say
you are “far happier than you ever expected to be.” That much I
know is enough. I know you too well to suppose your expectations
were not, at least, sometimes extravagant, and if the reality
exceeds them all, I say, Enough, dear Lord. I am not going
beyond the truth when I tell you that the short space it took me
to read your last letter gave me more pleasure than the total sum
of all I have enjoyed since the fatal 1st of January, 1841.
Since then it seems to me I should have been entirely happy, but
for the never-absent idea that there is one still unhappy whom I
have contributed to make so. That still kills my soul. I cannot
but reproach myself for even wishing to be happy while she is
otherwise. She accompanied a large party on the railroad cars to
Jacksonville last Monday, and on her return spoke, so that I
heard of it, of having enjoyed the trip exceedingly. God be
praised for that.

You know with what sleepless vigilance I have watched you ever
since the commencement of your affair; and although I am almost
confident it is useless, I cannot forbear once more to say that I
think it is even yet possible for your spirits to flag down and
leave you miserable. If they should, don’t fail to remember that
they cannot long remain so. One thing I can tell you which I
know you will be glad to hear, and that is that I have seen–and
scrutinized her feelings as well as I could, and am fully
convinced she is far happier now than she has been for the last
fifteen months past.

You will see by the last Sangamon Journal, that I made a
temperance speech on the 22d of February, which I claim that
Fanny and you shall read as an act of charity to me; for I cannot
learn that anybody else has read it, or is likely to.
Fortunately it is not very long, and I shall deem it a sufficient
compliance with my request if one of you listens while the other
reads it.

As to your Lockridge matter, it is only necessary to say that
there has been no court since you left, and that the next
commences to-morrow morning, during which I suppose we cannot
fail to get a judgment.

I wish you would learn of Everett what he would take, over and
above a discharge for all the trouble we have been at, to take
his business out of our hands and give it to somebody else. It
is impossible to collect money on that or any other claim here
now; and although you know I am not a very petulant man, I
declare I am almost out of patience with Mr. Everett’s
importunity. It seems like he not only writes all the letters he
can himself, but gets everybody else in Louisville and vicinity
to be constantly writing to us about his claim. I have always
said that Mr. Everett is a very clever fellow, and I am very
sorry he cannot be obliged; but it does seem to me he ought to
know we are interested to collect his claim, and therefore would
do it if we could.

I am neither joking nor in a pet when I say we would thank him to
transfer his business to some other, without any compensation for
what we have done, provided he will see the court cost paid, for
which we are security.

The sweet violet you inclosed came safely to hand, but it was so
dry, and mashed so flat, that it crumbled to dust at the first
attempt to handle it. The juice that mashed out of it stained a
place in the letter, which I mean to preserve and cherish for the
sake of her who procured it to be sent. My renewed good wishes
to her in particular, and generally to all such of your relations
who know me.

As ever,




DEAR SPEED:–Yours of the 16th June was received only a day or
two since. It was not mailed at Louisville till the 25th. You
speak of the great time that has elapsed since I wrote you. Let
me explain that. Your letter reached here a day or two after I
started on the circuit. I was gone five or six weeks, so that I
got the letters only a few weeks before Butler started to your
country. I thought it scarcely worth while to write you the news
which he could and would tell you more in detail. On his return
he told me you would write me soon, and so I waited for your
letter. As to my having been displeased with your advice, surely
you know better than that. I know you do, and therefore will not
labor to convince you. True, that subject is painful to me; but
it is not your silence, or the silence of all the world, that can
make me forget it. I acknowledge the correctness of your advice
too; but before I resolve to do the one thing or the other, I
must gain my confidence in my own ability to keep my resolves
when they are made. In that ability you know I once prided
myself as the only or chief gem of my character; that gem I lost-
-how and where you know too well. I have not yet regained it;
and until I do, I cannot trust myself in any matter of much
importance. I believe now that had you understood my case at the
time as well as I understand yours afterward, by the aid you
would have given me I should have sailed through clear, but that
does not now afford me sufficient confidence to begin that or the
like of that again.

You make a kind acknowledgment of your obligations to me for your
present happiness. I am pleased with that acknowledgment. But a
thousand times more am I pleased to know that you enjoy a degree
of happiness worthy of an acknowledgment. The truth is, I am not
sure that there was any merit with me in the part I took in your
difficulty; I was drawn to it by a fate. If I would I could not
have done less than I did. I always was superstitious; I believe
God made me one of the instruments of bringing your Fanny and you
together, which union I have no doubt He had fore-ordained.
Whatever He designs He will do for me yet. “Stand still, and see
the salvation of the Lord” is my text just now. If, as you say,
you have told Fanny all, I should have no objection to her seeing
this letter, but for its reference to our friend here: let her
seeing it depend upon whether she has ever known anything of my
affairs; and if she has not, do not let her.

I do not think I can come to Kentucky this season. I am so poor
and make so little headway in the world, that I drop back in a
month of idleness as much as I gain in a year’s sowing. I should
like to visit you again. I should like to see that “sis” of
yours that was absent when I was there, though I suppose she
would run away again if she were to hear I was coming.

My respects and esteem to all your friends there, and, by your
permission, my love to your Fanny.

Ever yours,



Article written by Lincoln for the Sangamon Journal in ridicule
of James Shields, who, as State Auditor, had declined to receive
State Bank notes in payment of taxes. The above letter purported
to come from a poor widow who, though supplied with State Bank
paper, could not obtain a receipt for her tax bill. This, and
another subsequent letter by Mary Todd, brought about the
“Lincoln-Shields Duel.”


August 27, 1842.


I see you printed that long letter I sent you a spell ago. I ‘m
quite encouraged by it, and can’t keep from writing again. I
think the printing of my letters will be a good thing all round–
it will give me the benefit of being known by the world, and give
the world the advantage of knowing what’s going on in the Lost
Townships, and give your paper respectability besides. So here
comes another. Yesterday afternoon I hurried through cleaning up
the dinner dishes and stepped over to neighbor S_______ to see if
his wife Peggy was as well as mout be expected, and hear what
they called the baby. Well, when I got there and just turned
round the corner of his log cabin, there he was, setting on the
doorstep reading a newspaper. “How are you, Jeff?” says I. He
sorter started when he heard me, for he hadn’t seen me before.
“Why,” says he, “I ‘m mad as the devil, Aunt ‘Becca!” “What
about?” says I; “ain’t its hair the right color? None of that
nonsense, Jeff; there ain’t an honester woman in the Lost
Townships than…”–“Than who?” says he; “what the mischief are
you about?” I began to see I was running the wrong trail, and so
says I, “Oh! nothing: I guess I was mistaken a little, that’s
all. But what is it you ‘re mad about?”

“Why,” says he, “I’ve been tugging ever since harvest, getting
out wheat and hauling it to the river to raise State Bank paper
enough to pay my tax this year and a little school debt I owe;
and now, just as I ‘ve got it, here I open this infernal Extra
Register, expecting to find it full of ‘Glorious Democratic
Victories’ and ‘High Comb’d Cocks,’ when, lo and behold! I find a
set of fellows, calling themselves officers of the State, have
forbidden the tax collectors, and school commissioners to receive
State paper at all; and so here it is dead on my hands. I don’t
now believe all the plunder I’ve got will fetch ready cash enough
to pay my taxes and that school debt.”

I was a good deal thunderstruck myself; for that was the first I
had heard of the proclamation, and my old man was pretty much in
the same fix with Jeff. We both stood a moment staring at one
another without knowing what to say. At last says I, “Mr.
S______ let me look at that paper.” He handed it to me, when I
read the proclamation over.

“There now,” says he, “did you ever see such a piece of impudence
and imposition as that?” I saw Jeff was in a good tune for saying
some ill-natured things, and so I tho’t I would just argue a
little on the contrary side, and make him rant a spell if I
could. “Why,” says I, looking as dignified and thoughtful as I
could, “it seems pretty tough, to be sure, to have to raise
silver where there’s none to be raised; but then, you see, ‘there
will be danger of loss’ if it ain’t done.”

“Loss! damnation!” says he. “I defy Daniel Webster, I defy King
Solomon, I defy the world–I defy–I defy–yes, I defy even you,
Aunt ‘Becca, to show how the people can lose anything by paying
their taxes in State paper.”

“Well,” says I, “you see what the officers of State say about it,
and they are a desarnin’ set of men. But,” says I, “I guess you
‘re mistaken about what the proclamation says. It don’t say the
people will lose anything by the paper money being taken for
taxes. It only says ‘there will be danger of loss’; and though
it is tolerable plain that the people can’t lose by paying their
taxes in something they can get easier than silver, instead of
having to pay silver; and though it’s just as plain that the
State can’t lose by taking State Bank paper, however low it may
be, while she owes the bank more than the whole revenue, and can
pay that paper over on her debt, dollar for dollar;–still there
is danger of loss to the ‘officers of State’; and you know, Jeff,
we can’t get along without officers of State.”

“Damn officers of State!” says he; “that’s what Whigs are always
hurrahing for.”

“Now, don’t swear so, Jeff,” says I, “you know I belong to the
meetin’, and swearin’ hurts my feelings.”

“Beg pardon, Aunt ‘Becca,” says he; “but I do say it’s enough to
make Dr. Goddard swear, to have tax to pay in silver, for
nothing only that Ford may get his two thousand a year, and
Shields his twenty-four hundred a year, and Carpenter his sixteen
hundred a year, and all without ‘danger of loss’ by taking it in
State paper. Yes, yes: it’s plain enough now what these officers
of State mean by ‘danger of loss.’ Wash, I s’pose, actually lost
fifteen hundred dollars out of the three thousand that two of
these ‘officers of State’ let him steal from the treasury, by
being compelled to take it in State paper. Wonder if we don’t
have a proclamation before long, commanding us to make up this
loss to Wash in silver.”

And so he went on till his breath run out, and he had to stop. I
couldn’t think of anything to say just then, and so I begun to
look over the paper again. “Ay! here’s another proclamation, or
something like it.”

“Another?” says Jeff; “and whose egg is it, pray?”

I looked to the bottom of it, and read aloud, “Your obedient
servant, James Shields, Auditor.”

“Aha!” says Jeff, “one of them same three fellows again. Well
read it, and let’s hear what of it.”

I read on till I came to where it says, “The object of this
measure is to suspend the collection of the revenue for the
current year.”

“Now stop, now stop!” says he; “that’s a lie a’ready, and I don’t
want to hear of it.”

“Oh, maybe not,” says I.

“I say it-is-a-lie. Suspend the collection, indeed! Will the
collectors, that have taken their oaths to make the collection,
dare to end it? Is there anything in law requiring them to
perjure themselves at the bidding of James Shields?

“Will the greedy gullet of the penitentiary be satisfied with
swallowing him instead of all of them, if they should venture to
obey him? And would he not discover some ‘danger of loss,’ and be
off about the time it came to taking their places?

“And suppose the people attempt to suspend, by refusing to pay;
what then? The collectors would just jerk up their horses and
cows, and the like, and sell them to the highest bidder for
silver in hand, without valuation or redemption. Why, Shields
didn’t believe that story himself; it was never meant for the
truth. If it was true, why was it not writ till five days after
the proclamation? Why did n’t Carlin and Carpenter sign it as
well as Shields? Answer me that, Aunt ‘Becca. I say it’s a lie,
and not a well told one at that. It grins out like a copper
dollar. Shields is a fool as well as a liar. With him truth is
out of the question; and as for getting a good, bright, passable
lie out of him, you might as well try to strike fire from a cake
of tallow. I stick to it, it’s all an infernal Whig lie!”

“A Whig lie! Highty tighty!”

“Yes, a Whig lie; and it’s just like everything the cursed
British Whigs do. First they’ll do some divilment, and then
they’ll tell a lie to hide it. And they don’t care how plain a
lie it is; they think they can cram any sort of a one down the
throats of the ignorant Locofocos, as they call the Democrats.”

“Why, Jeff, you ‘re crazy: you don’t mean to say Shields is a

“Yes, I do.”

“Why, look here! the proclamation is in your own Democratic
paper, as you call it.”

“I know it; and what of that? They only printed it to let us
Democrats see the deviltry the Whigs are at.”

“Well, but Shields is the auditor of this Loco–I mean this
Democratic State.”

“So he is, and Tyler appointed him to office.”

“Tyler appointed him?”

“Yes (if you must chaw it over), Tyler appointed him; or, if it
was n’t him, it was old Granny Harrison, and that’s all one. I
tell you, Aunt ‘Becca, there’s no mistake about his being a Whig.
Why, his very looks shows it; everything about him shows it: if I
was deaf and blind, I could tell him by the smell. I seed him
when I was down in Springfield last winter. They had a sort of a
gatherin’ there one night among the grandees, they called a fair.
All the gals about town was there, and all the handsome widows
and married women, finickin’ about trying to look like gals, tied
as tight in the middle, and puffed out at both ends, like bundles
of fodder that had n’t been stacked yet, but wanted stackin’
pretty bad. And then they had tables all around the house
kivered over with [ ] caps and pincushions and ten
thousand such little knick-knacks, tryin’ to sell ’em to the
fellows that were bowin’, and scrapin’ and kungeerin’ about ’em.
They would n’t let no Democrats in, for fear they’d disgust the
ladies, or scare the little gals, or dirty the floor. I looked
in at the window, and there was this same fellow Shields floatin’
about on the air, without heft or earthly substances, just like a
lock of cat fur where cats had been fighting.

“He was paying his money to this one, and that one, and t’ other
one, and sufferin’ great loss because it was n’t silver instead
of State paper; and the sweet distress he seemed to be in,–his
very features, in the ecstatic agony of his soul, spoke audibly
and distinctly, ‘Dear girls, it is distressing, but I cannot
marry you all. Too well I know how much you suffer; but do, do
remember, it is not my fault that I am so handsome and so

“As this last was expressed by a most exquisite contortion of his
face, he seized hold of one of their hands, and squeezed, and
held on to it about a quarter of an hour. ‘Oh, my good fellow!’
says I to myself, ‘if that was one of our Democratic gals in the
Lost Townships, the way you ‘d get a brass pin let into you would
be about up to the head.’ He a Democrat! Fiddlesticks! I tell
you, Aunt ‘Becca, he’s a Whig, and no mistake; nobody but a Whig
could make such a conceity dunce of himself.”

“Well,” says I, “maybe he is; but, if he is, I ‘m mistaken the
worst sort. Maybe so, maybe so; but, if I am, I’ll suffer by it;
I’ll be a Democrat if it turns out that Shields is a Whig,
considerin’ you shall be a Whig if he turns out a Democrat.”

“A bargain, by jingoes!” says he; “but how will we find out?”

“Why,” says I, “we’ll just write and ax the printer.”

“Agreed again!” says he; “and by thunder! if it does turn out
that Shields is a Democrat, I never will __________”

“Jefferson! Jefferson!”

“What do you want, Peggy?”

“Do get through your everlasting clatter some time, and bring me
a gourd of water; the child’s been crying for a drink this
livelong hour.”

“Let it die, then; it may as well die for water as to be taxed to
death to fatten officers of State.”

Jeff run off to get the water, though, just like he hadn’t been
saying anything spiteful, for he’s a raal good-hearted fellow,
after all, once you get at the foundation of him.

I walked into the house, and, “Why, Peggy,” says I, “I declare we
like to forgot you altogether.”

“Oh, yes,” says she, “when a body can’t help themselves,
everybody soon forgets ’em; but, thank God! by day after to-
morrow I shall be well enough to milk the cows, and pen the
calves, and wring the contrary ones’ tails for ’em, and no thanks
to nobody.”

“Good evening, Peggy,” says I, and so I sloped, for I seed she
was mad at me for making Jeff neglect her so long.

And now, Mr. Printer, will you be sure to let us know in your
next paper whether this Shields is a Whig or a Democrat? I don’t
care about it for myself, for I know well enough how it is
already; but I want to convince Jeff. It may do some good to let
him, and others like him, know who and what these officers of
State are. It may help to send the present hypocritical set to
where they belong, and to fill the places they now disgrace with
men who will do more work for less pay, and take fewer airs while
they are doing it. It ain’t sensible to think that the same men
who get us in trouble will change their course; and yet it’s
pretty plain if some change for the better is not made, it’s not
long that either Peggy or I or any of us will have a cow left to
milk, or a calf’s tail to wring.

Yours truly,

REBECCA ____________


SPRINGFIELD, ILL., Aug 29, 1842.

HON. HENRY CLAY, Lexington, Ky.

DEAR SIR:–We hear you are to visit Indianapolis, Indiana, on the
5th Of October next. If our information in this is correct we
hope you will not deny us the pleasure of seeing you in our
State. We are aware of the toil necessarily incident to a
journey by one circumstanced as you are; but once you have
embarked, as you have already determined to do, the toil would
not be greatly augmented by extending the journey to our capital.
The season of the year will be most favorable for good roads, and
pleasant weather; and although we cannot but believe you would be
highly gratified with such a visit to the prairie-land, the
pleasure it would give us and thousands such as we is beyond all
question. You have never visited Illinois, or at least this
portion of it; and should you now yield to our request, we
promise you such a reception as shall he worthy of the man on
whom are now turned the fondest hopes of a great and suffering

Please inform us at the earliest convenience whether we may
expect you.

Very respectfully your obedient servants,
Executive Committee “Clay Club.”

(Clay’s answer, September 6, 1842, declines with thanks.)


TREMONT, September 17, 1842.

ABRA. LINCOLN, ESQ.:–I regret that my absence on public business
compelled me to postpone a matter of private consideration a
little longer than I could have desired. It will only be
necessary, however, to account for it by informing you that I
have been to Quincy on business that would not admit of delay. I
will now state briefly the reasons of my troubling you with this
communication, the disagreeable nature of which I regret, as I
had hoped to avoid any difficulty with any one in Springfield
while residing there, by endeavoring to conduct myself in such a
way amongst both my political friends and opponents as to escape
the necessity of any. Whilst thus abstaining from giving
provocation, I have become the object of slander, vituperation,
and personal abuse, which were I capable of submitting to, I
would prove myself worthy of the whole of it.

In two or three of the last numbers of the Sangamon Journal,
articles of the most personal nature and calculated to degrade me
have made their appearance. On inquiring, I was informed by the
editor of that paper, through the medium of my friend General
Whitesides, that you are the author of those articles. This
information satisfies me that I have become by some means or
other the object of your secret hostility. I will not take the
trouble of inquiring into the reason of all this; but I will take
the liberty of requiring a full, positive, and absolute
retraction of all offensive allusions used by you in these
communications, in relation to my private character and standing
as a man, as an apology for the insults conveyed in them.

This may prevent consequences which no one will regret more than

Your obedient servant, JAS. SHIELDS.


TREMONT, September 17, 1842

JAS. SHIELDS, ESQ.:–Your note of to-day was handed me by General
Whitesides. In that note you say you have been informed, through
the medium of the editor of the Journal, that I am the author of
certain articles in that paper which you deem personally abusive
of you; and without stopping to inquire whether I really am the
author, or to point out what is offensive in them, you demand an
unqualified retraction of all that is offensive, and then proceed
to hint at consequences.

Now, sir, there is in this so much assumption of facts and so
much of menace as to consequences, that I cannot submit to answer
that note any further than I have, and to add that the
consequences to which I suppose you allude would be matter of as
great regret to me as it possibly could to you.




TREMONT, September 17, 1842.

ABRA. LINCOLN, ESQ.:–In reply to my note of this date, you
intimate that I assume facts and menace consequences, and that
you cannot submit to answer it further. As now, sir, you desire
it, I will be a little more particular. The editor of the
Sangamon Journal gave me to understand that you are the author of
an article which appeared, I think, in that paper of the 2d
September instant, headed “The Lost Townships,” and signed
Rebecca or ‘Becca. I would therefore take the liberty of asking
whether you are the author of said article, or any other over the
same signature which has appeared in any of the late numbers of
that paper. If so, I repeat my request of an absolute retraction
of all offensive allusions contained therein in relation to my
private character and standing. If you are not the author of any
of these articles, your denial will he sufficient. I will say
further, it is not my intention to menace, but to do myself

Your obedient servant,


Lincoln’s Second,

September 19, 1842.

In case Whitesides shall signify a wish to adjust this affair
without further difficulty, let him know that if the present
papers be withdrawn, and a note from Mr. Shields asking to know
if I am the author of the articles of which he complains, and
asking that I shall make him gentlemanly satisfaction if I am the
author, and this without menace, or dictation as to what that
satisfaction shall be, a pledge is made that the following answer
shall be given:

“I did write the ‘Lost Townships’ letter which appeared in the
Journal of the 2d instant, but had no participation in any form
in any other article alluding to you. I wrote that wholly for
political effect–I had no intention of injuring your personal or
private character or standing as a man or a gentleman; and I did
not then think, and do not now think, that that article could
produce or has produced that effect against you; and had I
anticipated such an effect I would have forborne to write it.
And I will add that your conduct toward me, so far as I know, had
always been gentlemanly; and that I had no personal pique against
you, and no cause for any.”

If this should be done, I leave it with you to arrange what shall
and what shall not be published. If nothing like this is done,
the preliminaries of the fight are to be–

First. Weapons: Cavalry broadswords of the largest size,
precisely equal in all respects, and such as now used by the
cavalry company at Jacksonville.

Second. Position: A plank ten feet long, and from nine to twelve
inches broad, to be firmly fixed on edge, on the ground, as the
line between us, which neither is to pass his foot over upon
forfeit of his life. Next a line drawn on the ground on either
side of said plank and parallel with it, each at the distance of
the whole length of the sword and three feet additional from the
plank; and the passing of his own such line by either party
during the fight shall be deemed a surrender of the contest.

Third. Time: On Thursday evening at five o’clock, if you can get
it so; but in no case to be at a greater distance of time than
Friday evening at five o’clock.

Fourth. Place: Within three miles of Alton, on the opposite side
of the river, the particular spot to be agreed on by you.

Any preliminary details coming within the above rules you are at
liberty to make at your discretion; but you are in no case to
swerve from these rules, or to pass beyond their limits.


SPRINGFIELD, October 4, 1842.

DEAR SPEED:–You have heard of my duel with Shields, and I have
now to inform you that the dueling business still rages in this
city. Day before yesterday Shields challenged Butler, who
accepted, and proposed fighting next morning at sunrise in Bob
Allen’s meadow, one hundred yards’ distance, with rifles. To
this Whitesides, Shields’s second, said “No,” because of the law.
Thus ended duel No. 2. Yesterday Whitesides chose to consider
himself insulted by Dr. Merryman, so sent him a kind of quasi-
challenge, inviting him to meet him at the Planter’s House in St.
Louis on the next Friday, to settle their difficulty. Merryman
made me his friend, and sent Whitesides a note, inquiring to know
if he meant his note as a challenge, and if so, that he would,
according to the law in such case made and provided, prescribe
the terms of the meeting. Whitesides returned for answer that if
Merryman would meet him at the Planter’s House as desired, he
would challenge him. Merryman replied in a note that he denied
Whitesides’s right to dictate time and place, but that he
(Merryman) would waive the question of time, and meet him at
Louisiana, Missouri. Upon my presenting this note to Whitesides
and stating verbally its contents, he declined receiving it,
saying he had business in St. Louis, and it was as near as
Louisiana. Merryman then directed me to notify Whitesides that
he should publish the correspondence between them, with such
comments as he thought fit. This I did. Thus it stood at
bedtime last night. This morning Whitesides, by his friend
Shields, is praying for a new trial, on the ground that he was
mistaken in Merryman’s proposition to meet him at Louisiana,
Missouri, thinking it was the State of Louisiana. This Merryman
hoots at, and is preparing his publication; while the town is in
a ferment, and a street fight somewhat anticipated.

But I began this letter not for what I have been writing, but to
say something on that subject which you know to be of such
infinite solicitude to me. The immense sufferings you endured
from the first days of September till the middle of February you
never tried to conceal from me, and I well understood. You have
now been the husband of a lovely woman nearly eight months. That
you are happier now than the day you married her I well know, for
without you could not be living. But I have your word for it,
too, and the returning elasticity of spirits which is manifested
in your letters. But I want to ask a close question, “Are you
now in feeling as well as judgment glad that you are married as
you are?” From anybody but me this would be an impudent question,
not to be tolerated; but I know you will pardon it in me. Please
answer it quickly, as I am impatient to know. I have sent my
love to your Fanny so often, I fear she is getting tired of it.
However, I venture to tender it again.

Yours forever,



November 2, 1842.


Owing to my absence, yours of the 22nd ult. was not received
till this moment. Judge Logan and myself are willing to attend
to any business in the Supreme Court you may send us. As to
fees, it is impossible to establish a rule that will apply in
all, or even a great many cases. We believe we are never accused
of being very unreasonable in this particular; and we would
always be easily satisfied, provided we could see the money–but
whatever fees we earn at a distance, if not paid before, we have
noticed, we never hear of after the work is done. We, therefore,
are growing a little sensitive on that point.

Yours etc.,




The object of the meeting was stated by Mr. Lincoln of
Springfield, who offered the following resolutions, which were
unanimously adopted:

Resolved, That a tariff of duties on imported goods, producing
sufficient revenue for the payment of the necessary expenditures
of the National Government, and so adjusted as to protect
American industry, is indispensably necessary to the prosperity
of the American people.

Resolved, That we are opposed to direct taxation for the support
of the National Government.

Resolved, That a national bank, properly restricted, is highly
necessary and proper to the establishment and maintenance of a
sound currency, and for the cheap and safe collection, keeping,
and disbursing of the public revenue.

Resolved, That the distribution of the proceeds of the sales of
the public lands, upon the principles of Mr. Clay’s bill, accords
with the best interests of the nation, and particularly with
those of the State of Illinois.

Resolved, That we recommend to the Whigs of each Congressional
district of the State to nominate and support at the approaching
election a candidate of their own principles, regardless of the
chances of success.

Resolved, That we recommend to th, Whigs of all portions of the
State to adopt and rigidly adhere to the convention system of
nominating candidates.

Resolved, That we recommend to the Whigs of each Congressional
district to hold a district convention on or before the first
Monday of May next, to be composed of a number of delegates from
each county equal to double the n tuber of its representatives in
the General Assembly, provided, each county shall have at least
one delegate. Said delegates to be chosen by primary meetings of
the Whigs, at such times and places as they in their respective
counties may see fit. Said district conventions each to nominate
one candidate for Congress, and one delegate to a national
convention for the purpose of nominating candidates for President
and Vice-President of the United States. The seven delegates so
nominated to a national convention to have power to add two
delegates to their own number, and to fill all vacancies.

Resolved, That A. T. Bledsoe, S. T. Logan, and A. Lincoln be
appointed a committee to prepare an address to the people of the

Resolved, That N. W. Edwards, A. G. Henry, James H. Matheny, John
C. Doremus, and James C. Conkling be appointed a Whig Central
State Committee, with authority to fill any vacancy that may
occur in the committee.


Address to the People of Illinois.

FELLOW-CITIZENS:-By a resolution of a meeting of such of the
Whigs of the State as are now at Springfield, we, the
undersigned, were appointed to prepare an address to you. The
performance of that task we now undertake.

Several resolutions were adopted by the meeting; and the chief
object of this address is to show briefly the reasons for their

The first of those resolutions declares a tariff of duties upon
foreign importations, producing sufficient revenue for the
support of the General Government, and so adjusted as to protect
American industry, to be indispensably necessary to the
prosperity of the American people; and the second declares direct
taxation for a national revenue to be improper. Those two
resolutions are kindred in their nature, and therefore proper and
convenient to be considered together. The question of protection
is a subject entirely too broad to be crowded into a few pages
only, together with several other subjects. On that point we
therefore content ourselves with giving the following extracts
from the writings of Mr. Jefferson, General Jackson, and the
speech of Mr. Calhoun:

“To be independent for the comforts of life, we must fabricate
them ourselves. We must now place the manufacturer by the side
of the agriculturalist. The grand inquiry now is, Shall we make
our own comforts, or go without them at the will of a foreign
nation? He, therefore, who is now against domestic manufactures
must be for reducing us either to dependence on that foreign
nation, or to be clothed in skins and to live like wild beasts in
dens and caverns. I am not one of those; experience has taught
me that manufactures are now as necessary to our independence as
to our comfort.” Letter of Mr. Jefferson to Benjamin Austin.

“I ask, What is the real situation of the agriculturalist? Where
has the American farmer a market for his surplus produce? Except
for cotton, he has neither a foreign nor a home market. Does not
this clearly prove, when there is no market at home or abroad,
that there [is] too much labor employed in agriculture? Common
sense at once points out the remedy. Take from agriculture six
hundred thousand men, women, and children, and you will at once
give a market for more breadstuffs than all Europe now furnishes.
In short, we have been too long subject to the policy of British
merchants. It is time we should become a little more
Americanized, and instead of feeding the paupers and laborers of
England, feed our own; or else in a short time, by continuing our
present policy, we shall all be rendered paupers ourselves.”–
General Jackson’s Letter to Dr. Coleman.

“When our manufactures are grown to a certain perfection, as they
soon will be, under the fostering care of government, the farmer
will find a ready market for his surplus produce, and–what is of
equal consequence–a certain and cheap supply of all he wants;
his prosperity will diffuse itself to every class of the
community.” Speech of Hon. J. C. Calhoun on the Tariff.

The question of revenue we will now briefly consider. For
several years past the revenues of the government have been
unequal to its expenditures, and consequently loan after loan,
sometimes direct and sometimes indirect in form, has been
resorted to. By this means a new national debt has been created,
and is still growing on us with a rapidity fearful to
contemplate–a rapidity only reasonably to be expected in time of
war. This state of things has been produced by a prevailing
unwillingness either to increase the tariff or resort to direct
taxation. But the one or the other must come. Coming
expenditures must be met, and the present debt must be paid; and
money cannot always be borrowed for these objects. The system of
loans is but temporary in its nature, and must soon explode. It
is a system not only ruinous while it lasts, but one that must
soon fail and leave us destitute. As an individual who
undertakes to live by borrowing soon finds his original means
devoured by interest, and, next, no one left to borrow from, so
must it be with a government.

We repeat, then, that a tariff sufficient for revenue, or a
direct tax, must soon be resorted to; and, indeed, we believe
this alternative is now denied by no one. But which system shall
be adopted? Some of our opponents, in theory, admit the propriety
of a tariff sufficient for a revenue, but even they will not in
practice vote for such a tariff; while others boldly advocate
direct taxation. Inasmuch, therefore, as some of them boldly
advocate direct taxation, and all the rest–or so nearly all as
to make exceptions needless–refuse to adopt the tariff, we think
it is doing them no injustice to class them all as advocates of
direct taxation. Indeed, we believe they are only delaying an
open avowal of the system till they can assure themselves that
the people will tolerate it. Let us, then, briefly compare the
two systems. The tariff is the cheaper system, because the
duties, being collected in large parcels at a few commercial
points, will require comparatively few officers in their
collection; while by the direct-tax system the land must be
literally covered with assessors and collectors, going forth like
swarms of Egyptian locusts, devouring every blade of grass and
other green thing. And, again, by the tariff system the whole
revenue is paid by the consumers of foreign goods, and those
chiefly the luxuries, and not the necessaries, of life. By this
system the man who contents himself to live upon the products of
his own country pays nothing at all. And surely that country is
extensive enough, and its products abundant and varied enough, to
answer all the real wants of its people. In short, by this
system the burthen of revenue falls almost entirely on the
wealthy and luxurious few, while the substantial and laboring
many who live at home, and upon home products, go entirely free.
By the direct-tax system none can escape. However strictly the
citizen may exclude from his premises all foreign luxuries,–fine
cloths, fine silks, rich wines, golden chains, and diamond
rings,–still, for the possession of his house, his barn, and his
homespun, he is to be perpetually haunted and harassed by the
tax-gatherer. With these views we leave it to be determined
whether we or our opponents are the more truly democratic on the

The third resolution declares the necessity and propriety of a
national bank. During the last fifty years so much has been said
and written both as to the constitutionality and expediency of
such an institution, that we could not hope to improve in the
least on former discussions of the subject, were we to undertake
it. We, therefore, upon the question of constitutionality
content ourselves with remarking the facts that the first
national bank was established chiefly by the same men who formed
the Constitution, at a time when that instrument was but two
years old, and receiving the sanction, as President, of the
immortal Washington; that the second received the sanction, as
President, of Mr. Madison, to whom common consent has awarded the
proud title of “Father of the Constitution”; and subsequently the
sanction of the Supreme Court, the most enlightened judicial
tribunal in the world. Upon the question of expediency, we only
ask you to examine the history of the times during the existence
of the two banks, and compare those times with the miserable

The fourth resolution declares the expediency of Mr. Clay’s land
bill. Much incomprehensible jargon is often used against the
constitutionality of this measure. We forbear, in this place,
attempting an answer to it, simply because, in our opinion, those
who urge it are through party zeal resolved not to see or
acknowledge the truth. The question of expediency, at least so
far as Illinois is concerned, seems to us the clearest
imaginable. By the bill we are to receive annually a large sum
of money, no part of which we otherwise receive. The precise
annual sum cannot be known in advance; it doubtless will vary in
different years. Still it is something to know that in the last
year–a year of almost unparalleled pecuniary pressure–it
amounted to more than forty thousand dollars. This annual
income, in the midst of our almost insupportable difficulties, in
the days of our severest necessity, our political opponents are
furiously resolving to take and keep from us. And for what?
Many silly reasons are given, as is usual in cases where a single
good one is not to be found. One is that by giving us the
proceeds of the lands we impoverish the national treasury, and
thereby render necessary an increase of the tariff. This may be
true; but if so, the amount of it only is that those whose pride,
whose abundance of means, prompt them to spurn the manufactures
of our country, and to strut in British cloaks and coats and
pantaloons, may have to pay a few cents more on the yard for the
cloth that makes them. A terrible evil, truly, to the Illinois
farmer, who never wore, nor ever expects to wear, a single yard
of British goods in his whole life. Another of their reasons is
that by the passage and continuance of Mr. Clay’s bill, we
prevent the passage of a bill which would give us more. This, if
it were sound in itself, is waging destructive war with the
former position; for if Mr. Clay’s bill impoverishes the treasury
too much, what shall be said of one that impoverishes it still
more? But it is not sound in itself. It is not true that Mr.
Clay’s bill prevents the passage of one more favorable to us of
the new States. Considering the strength and opposite interest
of the old States, the wonder is that they ever permitted one to
pass so favorable as Mr. Clay’s. The last twenty-odd years’
efforts to reduce the price of the lands, and to pass graduation
bills and cession bills, prove the assertion to be true; and if
there were no experience in support of it, the reason itself is
plain. The States in which none, or few, of the public lands
lie, and those consequently interested against parting with them
except for the best price, are the majority; and a moment’s
reflection will show that they must ever continue the majority,
because by the time one of the original new States (Ohio, for
example) becomes populous and gets weight in Congress, the public
lands in her limits are so nearly sold out that in every point
material to this question she becomes an old State. She does not
wish the price reduced, because there is none left for her
citizens to buy; she does not wish them ceded to the States in
which they lie, because they no longer lie in her limits, and she
will get nothing by the cession. In the nature of things, the
States interested in the reduction of price, in graduation, in
cession, and in all similar projects, never can be the majority.
Nor is there reason to hope that any of them can ever succeed as
a Democratic party measure, because we have heretofore seen that
party in full power, year after year, with many of their leaders
making loud professions in favor of these projects, and yet doing
nothing. What reason, then, is there to believe they will
hereafter do better? In every light in which we can view this
question, it amounts simply to this: Shall we accept our share of
the proceeds under Mr. Clay’s bill, or shall we rather reject
that and get nothing?

The fifth resolution recommends that a Whig candidate for
Congress be run in every district, regardless of the chances of
success. We are aware that it is sometimes a temporary
gratification, when a friend cannot succeed, to be able to choose
between opponents; but we believe that that gratification is the
seed-time which never fails to be followed by a most abundant
harvest of bitterness. By this policy we entangle ourselves. By
voting for our opponents, such of us as do it in some measure
estop ourselves to complain of their acts, however glaringly
wrong we may believe them to be. By this policy no one portion
of our friends can ever be certain as to what course another
portion may adopt; and by this want of mutual and perfect
understanding our political identity is partially frittered away
and lost. And, again, those who are thus elected by our aid ever
become our bitterest persecutors. Take a few prominent examples.
In 1830 Reynolds was elected Governor; in 1835 we exerted our
whole strength to elect Judge Young to the United States Senate,
which effort, though failing, gave him the prominence that
subsequently elected him; in 1836 General Ewing, was so elected
to the United States Senate; and yet let us ask what three men
have been more perseveringly vindictive in their assaults upon
all our men and measures than they? During the last summer the
whole State was covered with pamphlet editions of
misrepresentations against us, methodized into chapters and
verses, written by two of these same men,–Reynolds and Young, in
which they did not stop at charging us with error merely, but
roundly denounced us as the designing enemies of human liberty,
itself. If it be the will of Heaven that such men shall
politically live, be it so; but never, never again permit them to
draw a particle of their sustenance from us.

The sixth resolution recommends the adoption of the convention
system for the nomination of candidates. This we believe to be
of the very first importance. Whether the system is right in
itself we do not stop to inquire; contenting ourselves with
trying to show that, while our opponents use it, it is madness in
us not to defend ourselves with it. Experience has shown that we
cannot successfully defend ourselves without it. For examples,
look at the elections of last year. Our candidate for governor,
with the approbation of a large portion of the party, took the
field without a nomination, and in open opposition to the system.
Wherever in the counties the Whigs had held conventions and
nominated candidates for the Legislature, the aspirants who were
not nominated were induced to rebel against the nominations, and
to become candidates, as is said, “on their own hook.” And, go
where you would into a large Whig county, you were sure to find
the Whigs not contending shoulder to shoulder against the common
enemy, but divided into factions, and fighting furiously with one
another. The election came, and what was the result? The
governor beaten, the Whig vote being decreased many thousands
since 1840, although the Democratic vote had not increased any.
Beaten almost everywhere for members of the Legislature,–
Tazewell, with her four hundred Whig majority, sending a
delegation half Democratic; Vermillion, with her five hundred,
doing the same; Coles, with her four hundred, sending two out of
three; and Morgan, with her two hundred and fifty, sending three
out of four,–and this to say nothing of the numerous other less
glaring examples; the whole winding up with the aggregate number
of twenty-seven Democratic representatives sent from Whig
counties. As to the senators, too, the result was of the same
character. And it is most worthy to be remembered that of all
the Whigs in the State who ran against the regular nominees, a
single one only was elected. Although they succeeded in
defeating the nominees almost by scores, they too were defeated,
and the spoils chucklingly borne off by the common enemy.

We do not mention the fact of many of the Whigs opposing the
convention system heretofore for the purpose of censuring them.
Far from it. We expressly protest against such a conclusion. We
know they were generally, perhaps universally, as good and true
Whigs as we ourselves claim to be.

We mention it merely to draw attention to the disastrous result
it produced, as an example forever hereafter to be avoided. That
“union is strength” is a truth that has been known, illustrated,
and declared in various ways and forms in all ages of the world.
That great fabulist and philosopher Aesop illustrated it by his
fable of the bundle of sticks; and he whose wisdom surpasses that
of all philosophers has declared that “a house divided against
itself cannot stand.” It is to induce our friends to act upon
this important and universally acknowledged truth that we urge
the adoption of the convention system. Reflection will prove
that there is no other way of practically applying it. In its
application we know there will be incidents temporarily painful;
but, after all, those incidents will be fewer and less intense
with than without the system. If two friends aspire to the same
office it is certain that both cannot succeed. Would it not,
then, be much less painful to have the question decided by mutual
friends some time before, than to snarl and quarrel until the day
of election, and then both be beaten by the common enemy?

Before leaving this subject, we think proper to remark that we do
not understand the resolution as intended to recommend the
application of the convention system to the nomination of
candidates for the small offices no way connected with politics;
though we must say we do not perceive that such an application.
of it would be wrong.

The seventh resolution recommends the holding of district
conventions in May next, for the purpose of nominating candidates
for Congress. The propriety of this rests upon the same reasons
with that of the sixth, and therefore needs no further

The eighth and ninth also relate merely to the practical
application of the foregoing, and therefore need no discussion.

Before closing, permit us to add a few reflections on the present
condition and future prospects of the Whig party. In almost all
the States we have fallen into the minority, and despondency
seems to prevail universally among us. Is there just cause for
this? In 1840 we carried the nation by more than a hundred and
forty thousand majority. Our opponents charged that we did it by
fraudulent voting; but whatever they may have believed, we know
the charge to be untrue. Where, now, is that mighty host? Have
they gone over to the enemy? Let the results of the late
elections answer. Every State which has fallen off from the Whig
cause since 1840 has done so not by giving more Democratic votes
than they did then, but by giving fewer Whig. Bouck, who was
elected Democratic Governor of New York last fall by more than
15,000 majority, had not then as many votes as he had in 1840,
when he was beaten by seven or eight thousand. And so has it
been in all the other States which have fallen away from our
cause. From this it is evident that tens of thousands in the
late elections have not voted at all. Who and what are they? is
an important question, as respects the future. They can come
forward and give us the victory again. That all, or nearly all,
of them are Whigs is most apparent. Our opponents, stung to
madness by the defeat of 1840, have ever since rallied with more
than their usual unanimity. It has not been they that have been
kept from the polls. These facts show what the result must be,
once the people again rally in their entire strength. Proclaim
these facts, and predict this result; and although unthinking
opponents may smile at us, the sagacious ones will “believe and
tremble.” And why shall the Whigs not all rally again? Are
their principles less dear now than in 1840? Have any of their
doctrines since then been discovered to be untrue? It is true,
the victory of 1840 did not produce the happy results
anticipated; but it is equally true, as we believe, that the
unfortunate death of General Harrison was the cause of the
failure. It was not the election of General Harrison that was
expected to produce happy effects, but the measures to be adopted
by his administration. By means of his death, and the unexpected
course of his successor, those measures were never adopted. How
could the fruits follow? The consequences we always predicted
would follow the failure of those measures have followed, and are
now upon us in all their horrors. By the course of Mr. Tyler the
policy of our opponents has continued in operation, still leaving
them with the advantage of charging all its evils upon us as the
results of a Whig administration. Let none be deceived by this
somewhat plausible, though entirely false charge. If they ask us
for the sufficient and sound currency we promised, let them be
answered that we only promised it through the medium of a
national bank, which they, aided by Mr. Tyler, prevented our
establishing. And let them be reminded, too, that their own
policy in relation to the currency has all the time been, and
still is, in full operation. Let us then again come forth in our
might, and by a second victory accomplish that which death
prevented in the first. We can do it. When did the Whigs ever
fail if they were fully aroused and united? Even in single
States, under such circumstances, defeat seldom overtakes them.
Call to mind the contested elections within the last few years,
and particularly those of Moore and Letcher from Kentucky,
Newland and Graham from North Carolina, and the famous New Jersey
case. In all these districts Locofocoism had stalked omnipotent
before; but when the whole people were aroused by its enormities
on those occasions, they put it down, never to rise again.

We declare it to be our solemn conviction, that the Whigs are
always a majority of this nation; and that to make them always
successful needs but to get them all to the polls and to vote
unitedly. This is the great desideratum. Let us make every
effort to attain it. At every election, let every Whig act as
though he knew the result to depend upon his action. In the
great contest of 1840 some more than twenty one hundred thousand
votes were cast, and so surely as there shall be that many, with
the ordinary increase added, cast in 1844 that surely will a Whig
be elected President of the United States.


March 4, 1843.


SPRINGFIELD, March 7, 1843.


Your letter of this day was handed me by Mr. Miles. It is too
late now to effect the object you desire. On yesterday morning
the most of the Whig members from this district got together and
agreed to hold the convention at Tremont in Tazewell County. I
am sorry to hear that any of the Whigs of your county, or indeed
of any county, should longer be against conventions. On last
Wednesday evening a meeting of all the Whigs then here from all
parts of the State was held, and the question of the propriety.
of conventions was brought up and fully discussed, and at the end
of the discussion a resolution recommending the system of
conventions to all the Whigs of the State was unanimously
adopted. Other resolutions were also passed, all of which will
appear in the next Journal. The meeting also appointed a
committee to draft an address to the people of the State, which
address will also appear in the next journal.

In it you will find a brief argument in favor of conventions–and
although I wrote it myself I will say to you that it is
conclusive upon the point and can not be reasonably answered.
The right way for you to do is hold your meeting and appoint
delegates any how, and if there be any who will not take part,
let it be so. The matter will work so well this time that even
they who now oppose will come in next time.

The convention is to be held at Tremont on the 5th of April and
according to the rule we have adopted your county is to have
delegates -being double your representation.

If there be any good Whig who is disposed to stick out against
conventions get him at least to read the arguement in their
favor in the address.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, March 24, 1843.

DEAR SPEED:–We had a meeting of the Whigs of the county here on
last Monday to appoint delegates to a district convention; and
Baker beat me, and got the delegation instructed to go for him.
The meeting, in spite of my attempt to decline it, appointed me
one of the delegates; so that in getting Baker the nomination I
shall be fixed a good deal like a fellow who is made a groomsman
to a man that has cut him out and is marrying his own dear “gal.”
About the prospects of your having a namesake at our town, can’t
say exactly yet.



SPRINGFIELD, ILL., March 26, 1843.


Your letter of the a 3 d, was received on yesterday morning, and
for which (instead of an excuse, which you thought proper to ask)
I tender you my sincere thanks. It is truly gratifying to me to
learn that, while the people of Sangamon have cast me off, my old
friends of Menard, who have known me longest and best, stick to
me. It would astonish, if not amuse, the older citizens to learn
that I (a stranger, friendless, uneducated, penniless boy,
working on a flatboat at ten dollars per month) have been put
down here as the candidate of pride, wealth, and aristocratic
family distinction. Yet so, chiefly, it was. There was, too,
the strangest combination of church influence against me. Baker
is a Campbellite; and therefore, as I suppose, with few
exceptions got all that church. My wife has some relations in
the Presbyterian churches, and some with the Episcopal churches;
and therefore, wherever it would tell, I was set down as either
the one or the other, while it was everywhere contended that no
Christian ought to go for me, because I belonged to no church,
was suspected of being a deist, and had talked about fighting a
duel. With all these things, Baker, of course, had nothing to
do. Nor do I complain of them. As to his own church going for
him, I think that was right enough, and as to the influences I
have spoken of in the other, though they were very strong, it
would be grossly untrue and unjust to charge that they acted upon
them in a body or were very near so. I only mean that those
influences levied a tax of a considerable per cent. upon my
strength throughout the religious controversy. But enough of

You say that in choosing a candidate for Congress you have an
equal right with Sangamon, and in this you are undoubtedly
correct. In agreeing to withdraw if the Whigs of Sangamon should
go against me, I did not mean that they alone were worth
consulting, but that if she, with her heavy delegation, should be
against me, it would be impossible for me to succeed, and
therefore I had as well decline. And in relation to Menard
having rights, permit me fully to recognize them, and to express
the opinion that, if she and Mason act circumspectly, they will
in the convention be able so far to enforce their rights as to
decide absolutely which one of the candidates shall be
successful. Let me show the reason of this. Hardin, or some
other Morgan candidate, will get Putnam, Marshall, Woodford,
Tazewell, and Logan–making sixteen. Then you and Mason, having
three, can give the victory to either side.

You say you shall instruct your delegates for me, unless I
object. I certainly shall not object. That would be too
pleasant a compliment for me to tread in the dust. And besides,
if anything should happen (which, however, is not probable) by
which Baker should be thrown out of the fight, I would be at
liberty to accept the nomination if I could get it. I do,
however, feel myself bound not to hinder him in any way from
getting the nomination. I should despise myself were I to
attempt it. I think, then, it would be proper for your meeting
to appoint three delegates and to instruct them to go for some
one as the first choice, some one else as a second, and perhaps
some one as a third; and if in those instructions I were named as
the first choice, it would gratify me very much. If you wish to
hold the balance of power, it is important for you to attend to
and secure the vote of Mason also: You should be sure to have men
appointed delegates that you know you can safely confide in. If
yourself and James Short were appointed from your county, all
would be safe; but whether Jim’s woman affair a year ago might
not be in the way of his appointment is a question. I don’t know
whether you know it, but I know him to be as honorable a man as
there is in the world. You have my permission, and even request,
to show this letter to Short; but to no one else, unless it be a
very particular friend who you know will not speak of it.

Yours as ever,


P. S Will you write me again?


April 14, 1843.


I have heard it intimated that Baker has been attempting to get
you or Miles, or both of you, to violate the instructions of the
meeting that appointed you, and to go for him. I have insisted,
and still insist, that this cannot be true. Surely Baker would
not do the like. As well might Hardin ask me to vote for him in
the convention. Again, it is said there will be an attempt to
get up instructions in your county requiring you to go for Baker.
This is all wrong. Upon the same rule, Why might not I fly from
the decision against me in Sangamon, and get up instructions to
their delegates to go for me? There are at least twelve hundred
Whigs in the county that took no part, and yet I would as soon
put my head in the fire as to attempt it. Besides, if any one
should get the nomination by such extraordinary means, all
harmony in the district would inevitably be lost. Honest Whigs
(and very nearly all of them are honest) would not quietly abide
such enormities. I repeat, such an attempt on Baker’s part
cannot be true. Write me at Springfield how the matter is.
Don’t show or speak of this letter.



SPRINGFIELD, May 11, 1843.


Butler informs me that he received a letter from you, in which
you expressed some doubt whether the Whigs of Sangamon will
support you cordially. You may, at once, dismiss all fears on
that subject. We have already resolved to make a particular
effort to give you the very largest majority possible in our
county. From this, no Whig of the county dissents. We have many
objects for doing it. We make it a matter of honor and pride to
do it; we do it because we love the Whig cause; we do it because
we like you personally; and last, we wish to convince you that we
do not bear that hatred to Morgan County that you people have so
long seemed to imagine. You will see by the journals of this
week that we propose, upon pain of losing a barbecue, to give you
twice as great a majority in this county as you shall receive in
your own. I got up the proposal.

Who of the five appointed is to write the district address? I
did the labor of writing one address this year, and got thunder
for my reward. Nothing new here.

Yours as ever,


P. S.–I wish you would measure one of the largest of those
swords we took to Alton and write me the length of it, from tip
of the point to tip of the hilt, in feet and inches. I have a
dispute about the length.

A. L.

End of Etext of The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Vol 1




SPRINGFIELD, May 18, 1843.

DEAR SPEED:–Yours of the 9th instant is duly received, which I
do not meet as a “bore,” but as a most welcome visitor. I will
answer the business part of it first.

In relation to our Congress matter here, you were right in
supposing I would support the nominee. Neither Baker nor I,
however, is the man, but Hardin, so far as I can judge from
present appearances. We shall have no split or trouble about the
matter; all will be harmony. In relation to the “coming events”
about which Butler wrote you, I had not heard one word before I
got your letter; but I have so much confidence in the judgment of
Butler on such a subject that I incline to think there may be
some reality in it. What day does Butler appoint? By the way,
how do “events” of the same sort come on in your family? Are you
possessing houses and lands, and oxen and asses, and men-servants
and maid-servants, and begetting sons and daughters? We are not
keeping house, but boarding at the Globe Tavern, which is very
well kept now by a widow lady of the name of Beck. Our room (the
same that Dr. Wallace occupied there) and boarding only costs us
four dollars a week. Ann Todd was married something more than a
year since to a fellow by the name of Campbell, and who, Mary
says, is pretty much of a “dunce,” though he has a little money
and property. They live in Boonville, Missouri, and have not
been heard from lately enough for me to say anything about her
health. I reckon it will scarcely be in our power to visit
Kentucky this year. Besides poverty and the necessity of
attending to business, those “coming events,” I suspect, would be
somewhat in the way. I most heartily wish you and your Fanny
would not fail to come. Just let us know the time, and we will
have a room provided for you at our house, and all be merry
together for a while. Be sure to give my respects to your mother
and family; assure her that if ever I come near her, I will not
fail to call and see her. Mary joins in sending love to your
Fanny and you.

Yours as ever,




SPRINGFIELD, May 21, 1844.

Knowing that you have correspondents enough, I have forborne to
trouble you heretofore; and I now only do so to get you to set a
matter right which has got wrong with one of our best friends.
It is old Uncle Thomas Campbell of Spring Creek–(Berlin P.O.).
He has received several documents from you, and he says they are
old newspapers and documents, having no sort of interest in them.
He is, therefore, getting a strong impression that you treat him
with disrespect. This, I know, is a mistaken impression; and you
must correct it. The way, I leave to yourself. Rob’t W.
Canfield says he would like to have a document or two from you.

The Locos (Democrats) here are in considerable trouble about Van
Buren’s letter on Texas, and the Virginia electors. They are
growing sick of the Tariff question; and consequently are much
confounded at V.B.’s cutting them off from the new Texas
question. Nearly half the leaders swear they won’t stand it. Of
those are Ford, T. Campbell, Ewing, Calhoun and others. They
don’t exactly say they won’t vote for V.B., but they say he will
not be the candidate, and that they are for Texas anyhow.

As ever yours,




TO Gen. J. J. HARDIN, SPRINGFIELD, Jany. 19, 1845.


I do not wish to join in your proposal of a new plan for the
selection of a Whig candidate for Congress because:

1st. I am entirely satisfied with the old system under which you
and Baker were successively nominated and elected to Congress;
and because the Whigs of the district are well acquainted with
the system, and, so far as I know or believe, are well satisfied
with it. If the old system be thought to be vague, as to all the
delegates of the county voting the same way, or as to
instructions to them as to whom they are to vote for, or as to
filling vacancies, I am willing to join in a provision to make
these matters certain.

2d. As to your proposals that a poll shall be opened in every
precinct, and that the whole shall take place on the same day, I
do not personally object. They seem to me to be not unfair; and
I forbear to join in proposing them only because I choose to
leave the decision in each county to the Whigs of the county, to
be made as their own judgment and convenience may dictate.

3d. As to your proposed stipulation that all the candidates
shall remain in their own counties, and restrain their friends in
the same it seems to me that on reflection you will see the fact
of your having been in Congress has, in various ways, so spread
your name in the district as to give you a decided advantage in
such a stipulation. I appreciate your desire to keep down
excitement; and I promise you to “keep cool” under all

4th. I have already said I am satisfied with the old system
under which such good men have triumphed and that I desire no
departure from its principles. But if there must be a departure
from it, I shall insist upon a more accurate and just
apportionment of delegates, or representative votes, to the
constituent body, than exists by the old, and which you propose
to retain in your new plan. If we take the entire population of
the counties as shown by the late census, we shall see by the old
plan, and by your proposed new plan,

Morgan County, with a population 16,541, has but ……. 8 votes
While Sangamon with 18,697–2156 greater has but ……. 8 ”
So Scott with 6553 has …………………………… 4 ”
While Tazewell with 7615 1062 greater has but ………. 4 ”
So Mason with 3135 has …………………………… 1 vote
While Logan with 3907, 772 greater, has but ………… 1 ”

And so on in a less degree the matter runs through all the
counties, being not only wrong in principle, but the advantage of
it being all manifestly in your favor with one slight exception,
in the comparison of two counties not here mentioned.

Again, if we take the Whig votes of the counties as shown by the
late Presidential election as a basis, the thing is still worse.

It seems to me most obvious that the old system needs adjustment
in nothing so much as in this; and still, by your proposal, no
notice is taken of it. I have always been in the habit of
acceding to almost any proposal that a friend would make and I am
truly sorry that I cannot in this. I perhaps ought to mention
that some friends at different places are endeavoring to secure
the honor of the sitting of the convention at their towns
respectively, and I fear that they would not feel much
complimented if we shall make a bargain that it should sit

Yours as ever,


TO _________ WILLIAMS,

SPRINGFIELD, March 1, 1845.


The Supreme Court adjourned this morning for the term. Your
cases of Reinhardt vs. Schuyler, Bunce vs. Schuyler, Dickhut vs.
Dunell, and Sullivan vs. Andrews are continued. Hinman vs. Pope
I wrote you concerning some time ago. McNutt et al. vs. Bean and
Thompson is reversed and remanded.

Fitzpatrick vs. Brady et al. is reversed and remanded with leave
to complainant to amend his bill so as to show the real
consideration given for the land.

Bunce against Graves the court confirmed, wherefore, in
accordance with your directions, I moved to have the case
remanded to enable you to take a new trial in the court below.
The court allowed the motion; of which I am glad, and I guess you

This, I believe, is all as to court business. The canal men have
got their measure through the Legislature pretty much or quite in
the shape they desired. Nothing else now.

Yours as ever,




SPRINGFIELD, October 3, 1845

When I saw you at home, it was agreed that I should write to you
and your brother Madison. Until I then saw you I was not aware
of your being what is generally called an abolitionist, or, as
you call yourself, a Liberty man, though I well knew there were
many such in your country.

I was glad to hear that you intended to attempt to bring about,
at the next election in Putnam, a Union of the Whigs proper and
such of the Liberty men as are Whigs in principle on all
questions save only that of slavery. So far as I can perceive,
by such union neither party need yield anything on the point in
difference between them. If the Whig abolitionists of New York
had voted with us last fall, Mr. Clay would now be President,
Whig principles in the ascendant, and Texas not annexed; whereas,
by the division, all that either had at stake in the contest was
lost. And, indeed, it was extremely probable, beforehand, that
such would be the result. As I always understood, the Liberty
men deprecated the annexation of Texas extremely; and this being
so, why they should refuse to cast their votes [so] as to prevent
it, even to me seemed wonderful. What was their process of
reasoning, I can only judge from what a single one of them told
me. It was this: “We are not to do evil that good may come.”
This general proposition is doubtless correct; but did it apply?
If by your votes you could have prevented the extension, etc., of
slavery would it not have been good, and not evil, so to have
used your votes, even though it involved the casting of them for
a slaveholder? By the fruit the tree is to be known. An evil
tree cannot bring forth good fruit. If the fruit of electing Mr.
Clay would have been to prevent the extension of slavery, could
the act of electing have been evil?

But I will not argue further. I perhaps ought to say that
individually I never was much interested in the Texas question.
I never could see much good to come of annexation, inasmuch as
they were already a free republican people on our own model. On
the other hand, I never could very clearly see how the annexation
would augment the evil of slavery. It always seemed to me that
slaves would be taken there in about equal numbers, with or
without annexation. And if more were taken because of
annexation, still there would be just so many the fewer left
where they were taken from. It is possibly true, to some extent,
that, with annexation, some slaves may be sent to Texas and
continued in slavery that otherwise might have been liberated.
To whatever extent this may be true, I think annexation an evil.
I hold it to be a paramount duty of us in the free States, due to
the Union of the States, and perhaps to liberty itself (paradox
though it may seem), to let the slavery of the other States
alone; while, on the other hand, I hold it to be equally clear
that we should never knowingly lend ourselves, directly or
indirectly, to prevent that slavery from dying a natural death–
to find new places for it to live in when it can no longer exist
in the old. Of course I am not now considering what would be our
duty in cases of insurrection among the slaves. To recur to the
Texas question, I understand the Liberty men to have viewed
annexation as a much greater evil than ever I did; and I would
like to convince you, if I could, that they could have prevented
it, if they had chosen. I intend this letter for you and Madison
together; and if you and he or either shall think fit to drop me
a line, I shall be pleased.

Yours with respect,




SPRINGFIELD, January 7, 1846.

Dr. ROBERT BOAL, Lacon, Ill.

DEAR DOCTOR:–Since I saw you last fall, I have often thought of
writing to you, as it was then understood I would, but, on
reflection, I have always found that I had nothing new to tell
you. All has happened as I then told you I expected it would–
Baker’s declining, Hardin’s taking the track, and so on.

If Hardin and I stood precisely equal, if neither of us had been
to Congress, or if we both had, it would only accord with what I
have always done, for the sake of peace, to give way to him; and
I expect I should do it. That I can voluntarily postpone my
pretensions, when they are no more than equal to those to which
they are postponed, you have yourself seen. But to yield to
Hardin under present circumstances seems to me as nothing else
than yielding to one who would gladly sacrifice me altogether.
This I would rather not submit to. That Hardin is talented,
energetic, usually generous and magnanimous, I have before this
affirmed to you and do not deny. You know that my only argument
is that “turn about is fair play.” This he, practically at least,

If it would not be taxing you too much, I wish you would write
me, telling the aspect of things in your country, or rather your
district; and also, send the names of some of your Whig
neighbors, to whom I might, with propriety, write. Unless I can
get some one to do this, Hardin, with his old franking list, will
have the advantage of me. My reliance for a fair shake (and I
want nothing more) in your country is chiefly on you, because of
your position and standing, and because I am acquainted with so
few others. Let me hear from you soon.

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, Jan. 15, 1846.



Nathan Dresser is here, and speaks as though the contest between
Hardin and me is to be doubtful in Menard County. I know he is
candid and this alarms me some. I asked him to tell me the names
of the men that were going strong for Hardin, he said Morris was
about as strong as any-now tell me, is Morris going it openly?
You remember you wrote me that he would be neutral. Nathan also
said that some man, whom he could not remember, had said lately
that Menard County was going to decide the contest and that made
thL, contest very doubtful. Do you know who that was? Don’t
fail to write me instantly on receiving this, telling me all-
particularly the names of those who are going strong against me.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, January 21, 1846.

DEAR SIR:–You perhaps know that General Hardin and I have a
contest for the Whig nomination for Congress for this district.

He has had a turn and my argument is “turn about is fair play.”

I shall be pleased if this strikes you as a sufficient

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, April 26, 1846.

DEAR SIR:–I thank you for the promptness with which you answered
my letter from Bloomington. I also thank you for the frankness
with which you comment upon a certain part of my letter; because
that comment affords me an opportunity of trying to express
myself better than I did before, seeing, as I do, that in that
part of my letter, you have not understood me as I intended to be

In speaking of the “dissatisfaction” of men who yet mean to do no
wrong, etc., I mean no special application of what I said to the
Whigs of Morgan, or of Morgan & Scott. I only had in my mind the
fact that previous to General Hardin’s withdrawal some of his
friends and some of mine had become a little warm; and I felt,
and meant to say, that for them now to meet face to face and
converse together was the best way to efface any remnant of
unpleasant feeling, if any such existed.

I did not suppose that General Hardin’s friends were in any
greater need of having their feelings corrected than mine were.
Since I saw you at Jacksonville, I have had no more suspicion of
the Whigs of Morgan than of those of any other part of the
district. I write this only to try to remove any impression that
I distrust you and the other Whigs of your country.

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, May 7, 1866.

DEAR SIR:–It is a matter of high moral obligation, if not of
necessity, for me to attend the Coles and Edwards courts. I have
some cases in both of them, in which the parties have my promise,
and are depending upon me. The court commences in Coles on the
second Monday, and in Edgar on the third. Your court in Morgan
commences on the fourth Monday; and it is my purpose to be with
you then, and make a speech. I mention the Coles and Edgar
courts in order that if I should not reach Jacksonville at the
time named you may understand the reason why. I do not, however,
think there is much danger of my being detained; as I shall go
with a purpose not to be, and consequently shall engage in no new
cases that might delay me.

Yours truly,



[In December, 1847, when Lincoln was stumping for Clay, he
crossed into Indiana and revisited his old home. He writes:
“That part of the country is within itself as unpoetical as any
spot on earth; but still seeing it and its objects and
inhabitants aroused feelings in me which were certainly poetry;
though whether my expression of these feelings is poetry, is
quite another question.”]

Near twenty years have passed away
Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
And playmates loved so well.

Where many were, but few remain
Of old familiar things;
But seeing them to mind again
The lost and absent brings.

The friends I left that parting day,
How changed, as time has sped!
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,
And half of all are dead.

I hear the loved survivors tell
How naught from death could save,
Till every sound appears a knell,
And every spot a grave.

I range the fields with pensive tread,
And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)
I ‘m living in the tombs.


And when at length the drear and long
Time soothed thy fiercer woes,
How plaintively thy mournful song
Upon the still night rose

I’ve heard it oft as if I dreamed,
Far distant, sweet and lone;
The funeral dirge it ever seemed
Of reason dead and gone.

Air held her breath; trees with the spell
Seemed sorrowing angels round,
Whose swelling tears in dewdrops fell
Upon the listening ground.

But this is past, and naught remains
That raised thee o’er the brute;
Thy piercing shrieks and soothing strains
Are like, forever mute.

Now fare thee well! More thou the cause
Than subject now of woe.
All mental pangs by time’s kind laws
Hast lost the power to know.

O Death! thou awe-inspiring prince
That keepst the world in fear,
Why dost thou tear more blest ones hence,
And leave him lingering here?



SPRINGFIELD, October 22, 1846.

DEAR SPEED:–You, no doubt, assign the suspension of our
correspondence to the true philosophic cause; though it must be
confessed by both of us that this is rather a cold reason for
allowing a friendship such as ours to die out by degrees. I
propose now that, upon receipt of this, you shall be considered
in my debt, and under obligations to pay soon, and that neither
shall remain long in arrears hereafter. Are you agreed?

Being elected to Congress, though I am very grateful to our
friends for having done it, has not pleased me as much as I

We have another boy, born the 10th of March. He is very much
such a child as Bob was at his age, rather of a longer order.
Bob is “short and low,” and I expect always will be. He talks
very plainly,–almost as plainly as anybody. He is quite smart
enough. I sometimes fear that he is one of the little rare-ripe
sort that are smarter at about five than ever after. He has a
great deal of that sort of mischief that is the offspring of such
animal spirits. Since I began this letter, a messenger came to
tell me Bob was lost; but by the time I reached the house his
mother had found him and had him whipped, and by now, very
likely, he is run away again. Mary has read your letter, and
wishes to be remembered to Mrs. Speed and you, in which I most
sincerely join her.

As ever yours,



October 21, 1847.


GENTLEMEN:–Your second letter on the matter of Thornton and
others, came to hand this morning. I went at once to see Logan,
and found that he is not engaged against you, and that he has so
sent you word by Mr. Butterfield, as he says. He says that some
time ago, a young man (who he knows not) came to him, with a copy
of the affidavit, to engage him to aid in getting the Governor to
grant the warrant; and that he, Logan, told the man, that in his
opinion, the affidavit was clearly insufficient, upon which the
young man left, without making any engagement with him. If the
Governor shall arrive before I leave, Logan and I will both
attend to the matter, and he will attend to it, if he does not
come till after I leave; all upon the condition that the Governor
shall not have acted upon the matter, before his arrival here. I
mention this condition because, I learned this morning from the
Secretary of State, that he is forwarding to the Governor, at
Palestine, all papers he receives in the case, as fast as he
receives them. Among the papers forwarded will be your letter to
the Governor or Secretary of, I believe, the same date and about
the same contents of your last letter to me; so that the Governor
will, at all events have your points and authorities. The case
is a clear one on our side; but whether the Governor will view it
so is another thing.

Yours as ever,



WASHINGTON, December 5, 1847.

DEAR WILLIAM:–You may remember that about a year ago a man by
the name of Wilson (James Wilson, I think) paid us twenty dollars
as an advance fee to attend to a case in the Supreme Court for
him, against a Mr. Campbell, the record of which case was in the
hands of Mr. Dixon of St. Louis, who never furnished it to us.
When I was at Bloomington last fall I met a friend of Wilson, who
mentioned the subject to me, and induced me to write to Wilson,
telling him I would leave the ten dollars with you which had been
left with me to pay for making abstracts in the case, so that the
case may go on this winter; but I came away, and forgot to do it.
What I want now is to send you the money, to be used accordingly,
if any one comes on to start the case, or to be retained by you
if no one does.

There is nothing of consequence new here. Congress is to
organize to-morrow. Last night we held a Whig caucus for the
House, and nominated Winthrop of Massachusetts for speaker,
Sargent of Pennsylvania for sergeant-at-arms, Homer of New Jersey
door-keeper, and McCormick of District of Columbia postmaster.
The Whig majority in the House is so small that, together with
some little dissatisfaction, [it] leaves it doubtful whether we
will elect them all.

This paper is too thick to fold, which is the reason I send only
a half-sheet.

Yours as ever,


WASHINGTON, December 13, 1847

DEAR WILLIAM:–Your letter, advising me of the receipt of our fee
in the bank case, is just received, and I don’t expect to hear
another as good a piece of news from Springfield while I am away.
I am under no obligations to the bank; and I therefore wish you
to buy bank certificates, and pay my debt there, so as to pay it
with the least money possible. I would as soon you should buy
them of Mr. Ridgely, or any other person at the bank, as of any
one else, provided you can get them as cheaply. I suppose, after
the bank debt shall be paid, there will be some money left, out
of which I would like to have you pay Lavely and Stout twenty
dollars, and Priest and somebody (oil-makers) ten dollars, for
materials got for house-painting. If there shall still be any
left, keep it till you see or hear from me.

I shall begin sending documents so soon as I can get them. I
wrote you yesterday about a “Congressional Globe.” As you are all
so anxious for me to distinguish myself, I have concluded to do
so before long.

Yours truly,



Whereas, The President of the United States, in his message of
May 11, 1846, has declared that “the Mexican Government not only
refused to receive him [the envoy of the United States], or to
listen to his propositions, but, after a long-continued series of
menaces, has at last invaded our territory and shed the blood of
our fellow-citizens on our own soil”;

And again, in his message of December 8, 1846, that “we had ample
cause of war against Mexico long before the breaking out of
hostilities; but even then we forbore to take redress into our
own hands until Mexico herself became the aggressor, by invading
our soil in hostile array, and shedding the blood of our

And yet again, in his message of December 7, 1847, that “the
Mexican Government refused even to hear the terms of adjustment
which he [our minister of peace] was authorized to propose, and
finally, under wholly unjustifiable pretexts, involved the two
countries in war, by invading the territory of the State of
Texas, striking the first blow, and shedding the blood of our
citizens on our own soil”;

And whereas, This House is desirous to obtain a full knowledge of
all the facts which go to establish whether the particular spot
on which the blood of our citizens was so shed was or was not at
that time our own soil: therefore,

Resolved, By the House of Representatives, that the President of
the United States be respectfully requested to inform this House:

First. Whether the spot on which the blood of our citizens was
shed, as in his message declared, was or was not within the
territory of Spain, at least after the treaty of 1819, until the
Mexican revolution.

Second. Whether that spot is or is not within the territory
which was wrested from Spain by the revolutionary government of

Third. Whether that spot is or is not within a settlement of
people, which settlement has existed ever since long before the
Texas revolution, and until its inhabitants fled before the
approach of the United States army.

Fourth. Whether that settlement is or is not isolated from any
and all other settlements by the Gulf and the Rio Grande on the
south and west, and by wide uninhabited regions on the north and

Fifth. Whether the people of that settlement, or a majority of
them, or any of them, have ever submitted themselves to the
government or laws of Texas or of the United States, by consent
or by compulsion, either by accepting office, or voting at
elections, or paying tax, or serving on juries, or having process
served upon them, or in any other way.

Sixth. Whether the people of that settlement did or did not flee
from the approach of the United States army, leaving unprotected
their homes and their growing crops, before the blood was shed,
as in the message stated; and whether the first blood, so shed,
was or was not shed within the inclosure of one of the people who
had thus fled from it.

Seventh. Whether our citizens, whose blood was shed, as in his
message declared, were or were not, at that time, armed officers
and soldiers, sent into that settlement by the military order of
the President, through the Secretary of War.

Eighth. Whether the military force of the United States was or
was not so sent into that settlement after General Taylor had
more than once intimated to the War Department that, in his
opinion, no such movement was necessary to the defence or
protection of Texas.

JANUARY 5, 1848.

Mr. Lincoln said he had made an effort, some few days since, to
obtain the floor in relation to this measure [resolution to
direct Postmaster-General to make arrangements with railroad for
carrying the mails–in Committee of the Whole], but had failed.
One of the objects he had then had in view was now in a great
measure superseded by what had fallen from the gentleman from
Virginia who had just taken his seat. He begged to assure his
friends on the other side of the House that no assault whatever
was meant upon the Postmaster-General, and he was glad that what
the gentleman had now said modified to a great extent the
impression which might have been created by the language he had
used on a previous occasion. He wanted to state to gentlemen who
might have entertained such impressions, that the Committee on
the Post-office was composed of five Whigs and four Democrats,
and their report was understood as sustaining, not impugning, the
position taken by the Postmaster-General. That report had met
with the approbation of all the Whigs, and of all the Democrats
also, with the exception of one, and he wanted to go even further
than this. [Intimation was informally given Mr. Lincoln that it
was not in order to mention on the floor what had taken place in
committee.] He then observed that if he had been out of order in
what he had said he took it all back so far as he could. He had
no desire, he could assure gentlemen, ever to be out of order–
though he never could keep long in order.

Mr. Lincoln went on to observe that he differed in opinion, in
the present case, from his honorable friend from Richmond [Mr.
Botts]. That gentleman, had begun his remarks by saying that if
all prepossessions in this matter could be removed out of the
way, but little difficulty would be experienced in coming to an
agreement. Now, he could assure that gentleman that he had
himself begun the examination of the subject with prepossessions
all in his favor. He had long and often heard of him, and, from
what he had heard, was prepossessed in his favor. Of the
Postmaster-General he had also heard, but had no prepossessions
in his favor, though certainly none of an opposite kind. He
differed, however, with that gentleman in politics, while in this
respect he agreed with the gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Botts],
whom he wished to oblige whenever it was in his power. That
gentleman had referred to the report made to the House by the
Postmaster-General, and had intimated an apprehension that
gentlemen would be disposed to rely, on that report alone, and
derive their views of the case from that document alone. Now it
so happened that a pamphlet had been slipped into his [Mr.
Lincoln’s] hand before he read the report of the Postmaster-
General; so that, even in this, he had begun with prepossessions
in favor of the gentleman from Virginia.

As to the report, he had but one remark to make: he had carefully
examined it, and he did not understand that there was any dispute
as to the facts therein stated the dispute, if he understood it,
was confined altogether to the inferences to be drawn from those
facts. It was a difference not about facts, but about
conclusions. The facts were not disputed. If he was right in
this, he supposed the House might assume the facts to be as they
were stated, and thence proceed to draw their own conclusions.

The gentleman had said that the Postmaster-General had got into a
personal squabble with the railroad company. Of this Mr. Lincoln
knew nothing, nor did he need or desire to know anything, because
it had nothing whatever to do with a just conclusion from the
premises. But the gentleman had gone on to ask whether so great
a grievance as the present detention of the Southern mail ought
not to be remedied. Mr. Lincoln would assure the gentleman that
if there was a proper way of doing it, no man was more anxious
than he that it should be done. The report made by the committee
had been intended to yield much for the sake of removing that
grievance. That the grievance was very great there was no
dispute in any quarter. He supposed that the statements made by
the gentleman from Virginia to show this were all entirely
correct in point of fact. He did suppose that the interruptions
of regular intercourse, and all the other inconveniences growing
out of it, were all as that gentleman had stated them to be; and
certainly, if redress could be rendered, it was proper it should
be rendered as soon as possible. The gentleman said that in
order to effect this no new legislative action was needed; all
that was necessary was that the Postmaster-General should be
required to do what the law, as it stood, authorized and required
him to do.

We come then, said Mr. Lincoln, to the law. Now the Postmaster-
General says he cannot give to this company more than two hundred
and thirty-seven dollars and fifty cents per railroad mile of
transportation, and twelve and a half per cent. less for
transportation by steamboats. He considers himself as restricted
by law to this amount; and he says, further, that he would not
give more if he could, because in his apprehension it would not
be fair and just.




WASHINGTON, January 8, 1848.

DEAR WILLIAM:–Your letter of December 27 was received a day or
two ago. I am much obliged to you for the trouble you have
taken, and promise to take in my little business there. As to
speech making, by way of getting the hang of the House I made a
little speech two or three days ago on a post-office question of
no general interest. I find speaking here and elsewhere about
the same thing. I was about as badly scared, and no worse as I
am when I speak in court. I expect to make one within a week or
two, in which I hope to succeed well enough to wish you to see

It is very pleasant to learn from you that there are some who
desire that I should be reelected. I most heartily thank them
for their kind partiality; and I can say, as Mr. Clay said of the
annexation of Texas, that “personally I would not object” to a
reelection, although I thought at the time, and still think, it
would be quite as well for me to return to the law at the end of
a single term. I made the declaration that I would not be a
candidate again, more from a wish to deal fairly with others, to
keep peace among our friends, and to keep the district from going
to the enemy, than for any cause personal to myself; so that if
it should so happen that nobody else wishes to be elected, I
could not refuse the people the right of sending me again. But
to enter myself as a competitor of others, or to authorize any
one so to enter me is what my word and honor forbid.

I got some letters intimating a probability of so much difficulty
amongst our friends as to lose us the district; but I remember
such letters were written to Baker when my own case was under
consideration, and I trust there is no more ground for such
apprehension now than there was then. Remember I am always glad
to receive a letter from you.

Most truly your friend,



JANUARY 12, 1848.

MR CHAIRMAN:–Some if not all the gentlemen on the other side of
the House who have addressed the committee within the last two
days have spoken rather complainingly, if I have rightly
understood them, of the vote given a week or ten days ago
declaring that the war with Mexico was unnecessarily and
unconstitutionally commenced by the President. I admit that such
a vote should not be given in mere party wantonness, and that the
one given is justly censurable if it have no other or better
foundation. I am one of those who joined in that vote; and I did
so under my best impression of the truth of the case. How I got
this impression, and how it may possibly be remedied, I will now
try to show. When the war began, it was my opinion that all
those who because of knowing too little, or because of knowing
too much, could not conscientiously approve the conduct of the
President in the beginning of it should nevertheless, as good
citizens and patriots, remain silent on that point, at least till
the war should be ended. Some leading Democrats, including ex-
President Van Buren, have taken this same view, as I understand
them; and I adhered to it and acted upon it, until since I took
my seat here; and I think I should still adhere to it were it not
that the President and his friends will not allow it to be so.
Besides the continual effort of the President to argue every
silent vote given for supplies into an indorsement of the justice
and wisdom of his conduct; besides that singularly candid
paragraph in his late message in which he tells us that Congress
with great unanimity had declared that “by the act of the
Republic of Mexico, a state of war exists between that government
and the United States,” when the same journals that informed him
of this also informed him that when that declaration stood
disconnected from the question of supplies sixty-seven in the
House, and not fourteen merely, voted against it; besides this
open attempt to prove by telling the truth what he could not
prove by telling the whole truth-demanding of all who will not
submit to be misrepresented, in justice to themselves, to speak
out, besides all this, one of my colleagues [Mr. Richardson] at a
very early day in the session brought in a set of resolutions
expressly indorsing the original justice of the war on the part
of the President. Upon these resolutions when they shall be put
on their passage I shall be compelled to vote; so that I cannot
be silent if I would. Seeing this, I went about preparing myself
to give the vote understandingly when it should come. I
carefully examined the President’s message, to ascertain what he
himself had said and proved upon the point. The result of this
examination was to make the impression that, taking for true all
the President states as facts, he falls far short of proving his
justification; and that the President would have gone further
with his proof if it had not been for the small matter that the
truth would not permit him. Under the impression thus made I
gave the vote before mentioned. I propose now to give concisely
the process of the examination I made, and how I reached the
conclusion I did. The President, in his first war message of
May, 1846, declares that the soil was ours on which hostilities
were commenced by Mexico, and he repeats that declaration almost
in the same language in each successive annual message, thus
showing that he deems that point a highly essential one. In the
importance of that point I entirely agree with the President. To
my judgment it is the very point upon which he should be
justified, or condemned. In his message of December, 1846, it
seems to have occurred to him, as is certainly true, that title-
ownership-to soil or anything else is not a simple fact, but is a
conclusion following on one or more simple facts; and that it was
incumbent upon him to present the facts from which he concluded
the soil was ours on which the first blood of the war was shed.

Accordingly, a little below the middle of page twelve in the
message last referred to he enters upon that task; forming an
issue and introducing testimony, extending the whole to a little
below the middle of page fourteen. Now, I propose to try to show
that the whole of this–issue and evidence–is from beginning to
end the sheerest deception. The issue, as he presents it, is in
these words: “But there are those who, conceding all this to be
true, assume the ground that the true western boundary of Texas
is the Nueces, instead of the Rio Grande; and that, therefore, in
marching our army to the east bank of the latter river, we passed
the Texas line and invaded the territory of Mexico.” Now this
issue is made up of two affirmatives and no negative. The main
deception of it is that it assumes as true that one river or the
other is necessarily the boundary; and cheats the superficial
thinker entirely out of the idea that possibly the boundary is
somewhere between the two, and not actually at either. A further
deception is that it will let in evidence which a true issue
would exclude. A true issue made by the President would be about
as follows: “I say the soil was ours, on which the first blood
was shed; there are those who say it was not.”

I now proceed to examine the President’s evidence as applicable
to such an issue. When that evidence is analyzed, it is all
included in the following propositions

(1) That the Rio Grande was the western boundary of Louisiana as
we purchased it of France in 1803.

(2) That the Republic of Texas always claimed the Rio Grande as
her eastern boundary.

(3) That by various acts she had claimed it on paper.

(4) That Santa Anna in his treaty with Texas recognized the Rio
Grande as her boundary.

(5) That Texas before, and the United States after, annexation
had exercised jurisdiction beyond the Nueces–between the two

(6) That our Congress understood the boundary of Texas to extend
beyond the Nueces.

Now for each of these in its turn. His first item is that the
Rio Grande was the western boundary of Louisiana, as we purchased
it of France in 1803; and seeming to expect this to be disputed,
he argues over the amount of nearly a page to prove it true, at
the end of which he lets us know that by the treaty of 1803 we
sold to Spain the whole country from the Rio Grande eastward to
the Sabine. Now, admitting for the present that the Rio Grande
was the boundary of Louisiana, what under heaven had that to do
with the present boundary between us and Mexico? How, Mr.
Chairman, the line that once divided your land from mine can
still be the boundary between us after I have sold my land to you
is to me beyond all comprehension. And how any man, with an
honest purpose only of proving the truth, could ever have thought
of introducing such a fact to prove such an issue is equally
incomprehensible. His next piece of evidence is that “the
Republic of Texas always claimed this river [Rio Grande] as her
western boundary.” That is not true, in fact. Texas has claimed
it, but she has not always claimed it. There is at least one
distinguished exception. Her State constitution the republic’s
most solemn and well-considered act, that which may, without
impropriety, be called her last will and testament, revoking all
others-makes no such claim. But suppose she had always claimed
it. Has not Mexico always claimed the contrary? So that there
is but claim against claim, leaving nothing proved until we get
back of the claims and find which has the better foundation.
Though not in the order in which the President presents his
evidence, I now consider that class of his statements which are
in substance nothing more than that Texas has, by various acts of
her Convention and Congress, claimed the Rio Grande as her
boundary, on paper. I mean here what he says about the fixing of
the Rio Grande as her boundary in her old constitution (not her
State constitution), about forming Congressional districts,
counties, etc. Now all of this is but naked claim; and what I
have already said about claims is strictly applicable to this.
If I should claim your land by word of mouth, that certainly
would not make it mine; and if I were to claim it by a deed which
I had made myself, and with which you had had nothing to do, the
claim would be quite the same in substance–or rather, in utter
nothingness. I next consider the President’s statement that
Santa Anna in his treaty with Texas recognized the Rio Grande as
the western boundary of Texas. Besides the position so often
taken, that Santa Anna while a prisoner of war, a captive, could
not bind Mexico by a treaty, which I deem conclusive–besides
this, I wish to say something in relation to this treaty, so
called by the President, with Santa Anna. If any man would like
to be amused by a sight of that little thing which the President
calls by that big name, he can have it by turning to Niles’s
Register, vol. 1, p. 336. And if any one should suppose that
Niles’s Register is a curious repository of so mighty a document
as a solemn treaty between nations, I can only say that I learned
to a tolerable degree of certainty, by inquiry at the State
Department, that the President himself never saw it anywhere
else. By the way, I believe I should not err if I were to
declare that during the first ten years of the existence of that
document it was never by anybody called a treaty–that it was
never so called till the President, in his extremity, attempted
by so calling it to wring something from it in justification of
himself in connection with the Mexican War. It has none of the
distinguishing features of a treaty. It does not call itself a
treaty. Santa Anna does not therein assume to bind Mexico; he
assumes only to act as the President–Commander-in-Chief of the
Mexican army and navy; stipulates that the then present
hostilities should cease, and that he would not himself take up
arms, nor influence the Mexican people to take up arms, against
Texas during the existence of the war of independence. He did
not recognize the independence of Texas; he did not assume to put
an end to the war, but clearly indicated his expectation of its
continuance; he did not say one word about boundary, and, most
probably, never thought of it. It is stipulated therein that the
Mexican forces should evacuate the territory of Texas, passing to
the other side of the Rio Grande; and in another article it is
stipulated that, to prevent collisions between the armies, the
Texas army should not approach nearer than within five leagues–
of what is not said, but clearly, from the object stated, it is
of the Rio Grande. Now, if this is a treaty recognizing the Rio
Grande as the boundary of Texas, it contains the singular feature
of stipulating that Texas shall not go within five leagues of her
own boundary.

Next comes the evidence of Texas before annexation, and the
United States afterwards, exercising jurisdiction beyond the
Nueces and between the two rivers. This actual exercise of
jurisdiction is the very class or quality of evidence we want.
It is excellent so far as it goes; but does it go far enough? He
tells us it went beyond the Nueces, but he does not tell us it
went to the Rio Grande. He tells us jurisdiction was exercised
between the two rivers, but he does not tell us it was exercised
over all the territory between them. Some simple-minded people
think it is possible to cross one river and go beyond it without
going all the way to the next, that jurisdiction may be exercised
between two rivers without covering all the country between them.
I know a man, not very unlike myself, who exercises jurisdiction
over a piece of land between the Wabash and the Mississippi; and
yet so far is this from being all there is between those rivers
that it is just one hundred and fifty-two feet long by fifty feet
wide, and no part of it much within a hundred miles of either. He
has a neighbor between him and the Mississippi–that is, just
across the street, in that direction–whom I am sure he could
neither persuade nor force to give up his habitation; but which
nevertheless he could certainly annex, if it were to be done by
merely standing on his own side of the street and claiming it, or
even sitting down and writing a deed for it.

But next the President tells us the Congress of the United States
understood the State of Texas they admitted into the Union to
extend beyond the Nueces. Well, I suppose they did. I certainly
so understood it. But how far beyond? That Congress did not
understand it to extend clear to the Rio Grande is quite certain,
by the fact of their joint resolutions for admission expressly
leaving all questions of boundary to future adjustment. And it
may be added that Texas herself is proven to have had the same
understanding of it that our Congress had, by the fact of the
exact conformity of her new constitution to those resolutions.

I am now through the whole of the President’s evidence; and it is
a singular fact that if any one should declare the President sent
the army into the midst of a settlement of Mexican people who had
never submitted, by consent or by force, to the authority of
Texas or of the United States, and that there and thereby the
first blood of the war was shed, there is not one word in all the
which would either admit or deny the declaration. This strange
omission it does seem to me could not have occurred but by
design. My way of living leads me to be about the courts of
justice; and there I have sometimes seen a good lawyer,
struggling for his client’s neck in a desperate case, employing
every artifice to work round, befog, and cover up with many words
some point arising in the case which he dared not admit and yet
could not deny. Party bias may help to make it appear so, but
with all the allowance I can make for such bias, it still does
appear to me that just such, and from just such necessity, is the
President’s struggle in this case.

Sometime after my colleague [Mr. Richardson] introduced the
resolutions I have mentioned, I introduced a preamble,
resolution, and interrogations, intended to draw the President
out, if possible, on this hitherto untrodden ground. To show
their relevancy, I propose to state my understanding of the true
rule for ascertaining the boundary between Texas and Mexico. It
is that wherever Texas was exercising jurisdiction was hers; and
wherever Mexico was exercising jurisdiction was hers; and that
whatever separated the actual exercise of jurisdiction of the one
from that of the other was the true boundary between them. If,
as is probably true, Texas was exercising jurisdiction along the
western bank of the Nueces, and Mexico was exercising it along
the eastern bank of the Rio Grande, then neither river was the
boundary: but the uninhabited country between the two was. The
extent of our territory in that region depended not on any
treaty-fixed boundary (for no treaty had attempted it), but on
revolution. Any people anywhere being inclined and having the
power have the right to rise up and shake off the existing
government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a
most valuable, a most sacred right–a right which we hope and
believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to
cases in which the whole people of an existing government may
choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can may
revolutionize and make their own of so much of the territory as
they inhabit. More than this, a majority of any portion of such
people may revolutionize, putting down a minority, intermingled
with or near about them, who may oppose this movement. Such
minority was precisely the case of the Tories of our own
revolution. It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old
lines or old laws, but to break up both, and make new ones.

As to the country now in question, we bought it of France in
1803, and sold it to Spain in 1819, according to the President’s
statements. After this, all Mexico, including Texas,
revolutionized against Spain; and still later Texas
revolutionized against Mexico. In my view, just so far as she
carried her resolution by obtaining the actual, willing or
unwilling, submission of the people, so far the country was hers,
and no farther. Now, sir, for the purpose of obtaining the very
best evidence as to whether Texas had actually carried her
revolution to the place where the hostilities of the present war
commenced, let the President answer the interrogatories I
proposed, as before mentioned, or some other similar ones. Let
him answer fully, fairly, and candidly. Let him answer with facts
and not with arguments. Let him remember he sits where
Washington sat, and so remembering, let him answer as Washington
would answer. As a nation should not, and the Almighty will not,
be evaded, so let him attempt no evasion–no equivocation. And
if, so answering, he can show that the soil was ours where the
first blood of the war was shed,–that it was not within an
inhabited country, or, if within such, that the inhabitants had
submitted themselves to the civil authority of Texas or of the
United States, and that the same is true of the site of Fort
Brown, then I am with him for his justification. In that case I
shall be most happy to reverse the vote I gave the other day. I
have a selfish motive for desiring that the President may do this
–I expect to gain some votes, in connection with the war, which,
without his so doing, will be of doubtful propriety in my own
judgment, but which will be free from the doubt if he does so.
But if he can not or will not do this,–if on any pretence or no
pretence he shall refuse or omit it then I shall be fully
convinced of what I more than suspect already that he is deeply
conscious of being in the wrong; that he feels the blood of this
war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to heaven against him;
that originally having some strong motive–what, I will not stop
now to give my opinion concerning to involve the two countries in
a war, and trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public gaze
upon the exceeding brightness of military glory,–that attractive
rainbow that rises in showers of blood, that serpent’s eye that
charms to destroy,–he plunged into it, and was swept on and on
till, disappointed in his calculation of the ease with which
Mexico might be subdued, he now finds himself he knows not where.
How like the half insane mumbling of a fever dream is the whole
war part of his late message! At one time telling us that Mexico
has nothing whatever that we can get–but territory; at another
showing us how we can support the war by levying contributions on
Mexico. At one time urging the national honor, the security of
the future, the prevention of foreign interference, and even the
good of Mexico herself as among the objects of the war; at
another telling us that “to reject indemnity, by refusing to
accept a cession of territory, would be to abandon all our just
demands, and to wage the war, bearing all its expenses, without a
purpose or definite object.” So then this national honor,
security of the future, and everything but territorial indemnity
may be considered the no-purposes and indefinite objects of the
war! But, having it now settled that territorial indemnity is
the only object, we are urged to seize, by legislation here, all
that he was content to take a few months ago, and the whole
province of Lower California to boot, and to still carry on the
war to take all we are fighting for, and still fight on. Again,
the President is resolved under all circumstances to have full
territorial indemnity for the expenses of the war; but he forgets
to tell us how we are to get the excess after those expenses
shall have surpassed the value of the whole of the Mexican
territory. So again, he insists that the separate national
existence of Mexico shall be maintained; but he does not tell us
how this can be done, after we shall have taken all her
territory. Lest the questions I have suggested be considered
speculative merely, let me be indulged a moment in trying to show
they are not. The war has gone on some twenty months; for the
expenses of which, together with an inconsiderable old score, the
President now claims about one half of the Mexican territory, and
that by far the better half, so far as concerns our ability to
make anything out of it. It is comparatively uninhabited; so
that we could establish land-offices in it, and raise some money
in that way. But the other half is already inhabited, as I
understand it, tolerably densely for the nature of the country,
and all its lands, or all that are valuable, already appropriated
as private property. How then are we to make anything out of
these lands with this encumbrance on them? or how remove the
encumbrance? I suppose no one would say we should kill the
people, or drive them out, or make slaves of them, or confiscate
their property. How, then, can we make much out of this part of
the territory? If the prosecution of the war has in expenses
already equalled the better half of the country, how long its
future prosecution will be in equalling the less valuable half is
not a speculative, but a practical, question, pressing closely
upon us. And yet it is a question which the President seems
never to have thought of. As to the mode of terminating the war
and securing peace, the President is equally wandering and
indefinite. First, it is to be done by a more vigorous
prosecution of the war in the vital parts of the enemy’s country;
and after apparently talking himself tired on this point, the
President drops down into a half-despairing tone, and tells us
that “with a people distracted and divided by contending
factions, and a government subject to constant changes by
successive revolutions, the continued success of our arms may
fail to secure a satisfactory peace.” Then he suggests the
propriety of wheedling the Mexican people to desert the counsels
of their own leaders, and, trusting in our protestations, to set
up a government from which we can secure a satisfactory peace;
telling us that “this may become , the only mode of obtaining
such a peace.” But soon he falls into doubt of this too; and
then drops back on to the already half-abandoned ground of “more
vigorous prosecution.” All this shows that the President is in
nowise satisfied with his own positions. First he takes up one,
and in attempting to argue us into it he argues himself out of
it, then seizes another and goes through the same process, and
then, confused at being able to think of nothing new, he snatches
up the old one again, which he has some time before cast off.
His mind, taxed beyond its power, is running hither and thither,
like some tortured creature on a burning surface, finding no
position on which it can settle down and be at ease.

Again, it is a singular omission in this message that it nowhere
intimates when the President expects the war to terminate. At
its beginning, General Scott was by this same President driven
into disfavor if not disgrace, for intimating that peace could
not be conquered in less than three or four months. But now, at
the end of about twenty months, during which time our arms have
given us the most splendid successes, every department and every
part, land and water, officers and privates, regulars and
volunteers, doing all that men could do, and hundreds of things
which it had ever before been thought men could not do–after all
this, this same President gives a long message, without showing
us that as to the end he himself has even an imaginary
conception. As I have before said, he knows not where he is. He
is a bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed man. God
grant he may be able to show there is not something about his
conscience more painful than his mental perplexity.

The following is a copy of the so-called “treaty” referred to in
the speech:

“Articles of Agreement entered into between his Excellency
David G. Burnet, President of the Republic of Texas, of the one
part, and his Excellency General Santa Anna, President-General-
in-Chief of the Mexican army, of the other part:
“Article I. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna agrees that
he will not take up arms, nor will he exercise his influence to
cause them to be taken up, against the people of Texas during the
present war of independence.
“Article II. All hostilities between the Mexican and Texan
troops will cease immediately, both by land and water.
“Article III. The Mexican troops will evacuate the territory
of Texas, passing to the other side of the Rio Grande Del Norte.
“Article IV. The Mexican army, in its retreat, shall not
take the property of any person without his consent and just
indemnification, using only such articles as may be necessary for
its subsistence, in cases when the owner may not be present, and
remitting to the commander of the army of Texas, or to the
commissioners to be appointed for the adjustment of such matters,
an account of the value of the property consumed, the place where
taken, and the name of the owner, if it can be ascertained.
“Article V. That all private property, including cattle,
horses, negro slaves, or indentured persons, of whatever
denomination, that may have been captured by any portion of the
Mexican army, or may have taken refuge in the said army, since
the commencement of the late invasion, shall be restored to the
commander of the Texan army, or to such other persons as may be
appointed by the Government of Texas to receive them.
“Article VI. The troops of both armies will refrain from
coming in contact with each other; and to this end the commander
of the army of Texas will be careful not to approach within a
shorter distance than five leagues.
“Article VII. The Mexican army shall not make any other
delay on its march than that which is necessary to take up their
hospitals, baggage, etc., and to cross the rivers; any delay not
necessary to these purposes to be considered an infraction of
this agreement.
“Article VIII. By an express, to be immediately despatched,
this agreement shall be sent to General Vincente Filisola and to
General T. J. Rusk, commander of the Texan army, in order that
they may be apprised of its stipulations; and to this end they
will exchange engagements to comply with the same.
“Article IX. That all Texan prisoners now in the possession
of the Mexican army, or its authorities, be forthwith released,
and furnished with free passports to return to their homes; in
consideration of which a corresponding number of Mexican
prisoners, rank and file, now in possession of the Government of
Texas shall be immediately released; the remainder of the Mexican
prisoners that continue in the possession of the Government of
Texas to be treated with due humanity,–any extraordinary
comforts that may be furnished them to be at the charge of the
Government of Mexico.
“Article X. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna will be sent
to Vera Cruz as soon as it shall be deemed proper.

“The contracting parties sign this instrument for the
abovementioned purposes, in duplicate, at the port of Velasco,
this fourteenth day of May, 1836.

“DAVID G. BURNET, President,
“JAS. COLLINGSWORTH, Secretary of State,
“B. HARDIMAN, Secretary o f the Treasury,
“P. W. GRAYSON, Attorney-General.”

JANUARY 19, 1848.

Mr. Lincoln, from the Committee on the Post-office and Post
Roads, made the following report:

The Committee on the Post-office and Post Roads, to whom was
referred the petition of Messrs. Saltmarsh and Fuller, report:
That, as proved to their satisfaction, the mail routes from
Milledgeville to Athens, and from Warrenton to Decatur, in the
State of Georgia (numbered 2366 and 2380), were let to Reeside
and Avery at $1300 per annum for the former and $1500 for the
latter, for the term of four years, to commence on the first day
of January, 1835; that, previous to the time for commencing the
service, Reeside sold his interest therein to Avery; that on the
a a th of May, 1835, Avery sold the whole to these petitioners,
Saltmarsh and Fuller, to take effect from the beginning, January
a 1835 ; that at this time, the Assistant Postmaster-General,
being called on for that purpose, consented to the transfer of
the contracts from Reeside and Avery to these petitioners, and
promised to have proper entries of the transfer made on the books
of the department, which, however, was neglected to be done; that
the petitioners, supposing all was right, in good faith commenced
the transportation of the mail on these routes, and after
difficulty arose, still trusting that all would be made right,
continued the service till December a 1`837; that they performed
the service to the entire satisfaction of the department, and
have never been paid anything for it except $_____ ; that the
difficulty occurred as follows:

Mr. Barry was Postmaster-General at the times of making the
contracts and the attempted transfer of them; Mr. Kendall
succeeded Mr. Barry, and finding Reeside apparently in debt to
the department, and these contracts still standing in the names
of Reeside and Avery, refused to pay for the services under them,
otherwise than by credits to Reeside ; afterward, however, he
divided the compensation, still crediting one half to Reeside,
and directing the other to be paid to the order of Avery, who
disclaimed all right to it. After discontinuing the service,
these petitioners, supposing they might have legal redress
against Avery, brought suit against him in New Orleans; in which
suit they failed, on the ground that Avery had complied with his
contract, having done so much toward the transfer as they had
accepted and been satisfied with. Still later the department
sued Reeside on his supposed indebtedness, and by a verdict of
the jury it was determined that the department was indebted to
him in a sum much beyond all the credits given him on the account
above stated. Under these circumstances, the committee consider
the petitioners clearly entitled to relief, and they report a
bill accordingly; lest, however, there should be some mistake as
to the amount which they have already received, we so frame it as
that, by adjustment at the department, they may be paid so much
as remains unpaid for services actually performed by them not
charging them with the credits given to Reeside. The committee
think it not improbable that the petitioners purchased the right
of Avery to be paid for the service from the 1st of January, till
their purchase on May 11, 1835; but, the evidence on this point
being very vague, they forbear to report in favor of allowing it.


WASHINGTON, January 19, 1848.

DEAR WILLIAM:–Inclosed you find a letter of Louis W. Chandler.
What is wanted is that you shall ascertain whether the claim upon
the note described has received any dividend in the Probate Court
of Christian County, where the estate of Mr. Overbon Williams has
been administered on. If nothing is paid on it, withdraw the
note and send it to me, so that Chandler can see the indorser of
it. At all events write me all about it, till I can somehow get
it off my hands. I have already been bored more than enough
about it; not the least of which annoyance is his cursed,
unreadable, and ungodly handwriting.

I have made a speech, a copy of which I will send you by next

Yours as ever,




WASHINGTON, February 1, 1848.

DEAR WILLIAM:–Your letter of the 19th ultimo was received last
night, and for which I am much obliged. The only thing in it
that I wish to talk to you at once about is that because of my
vote for Ashmun’s amendment you fear that you and I disagree
about the war. I regret this, not because of any fear we shall
remain disagreed after you have read this letter, but because if
you misunderstand I fear other good friends may also. That vote
affirms that the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally
commenced by the President; and I will stake my life that if you
had been in my place you would have voted just as I did. Would
you have voted what you felt and knew to be a lie? I know you
would not. Would you have gone out of the House–skulked the
vote? I expect not. If you had skulked one vote, you would have
had to skulk many more before the end of the session.
Richardson’s resolutions, introduced before I made any move or
gave any vote upon the subject, make the direct question of the
justice of the war; so that no man can be silent if he would.
You are compelled to speak; and your only alternative is to tell
the truth or a lie. I cannot doubt which you would do.

This vote has nothing to do in determining my votes on the
questions of supplies. I have always intended, and still intend,
to vote supplies; perhaps not in the precise form recommended by
the President, but in a better form for all purposes, except
Locofoco party purposes. It is in this particular you seem
mistaken. The Locos are untiring in their efforts to make the
impression that all who vote supplies or take part in the war do
of necessity approve the President’s conduct in the beginning of
it; but the Whigs have from the beginning made and kept the
distinction between the two. In the very first act nearly all
the Whigs voted against the preamble declaring that war existed
by the act of Mexico; and yet nearly all of them voted for the
supplies. As to the Whig men who have participated in the war,
so far as they have spoken in my hearing they do not hesitate to
denounce as unjust the President’s conduct in the beginning of
the war. They do not suppose that such denunciation is directed
by undying hatred to him, as The Register would have it
believed. There are two such Whigs on this floor (Colonel
Haskell and Major James) The former fought as a colonel by the
side of Colonel Baker at Cerro Gordo, and stands side by side
with me in the vote that you seem dissatisfied with. The latter,
the history of whose capture with Cassius Clay you well know, had
not arrived here when that vote was given; but, as I understand,
he stands ready to give just such a vote whenever an occasion
shall present. Baker, too, who is now here, says the truth is
undoubtedly that way; and whenever he shall speak out, he will
say so. Colonel Doniphan, too, the favorite Whig of Missouri,
and who overran all Northern Mexico, on his return home in a
public speech at St. Louis condemned the administration in
relation to the war. If I remember, G. T. M. Davis, who has
been through almost the whole war, declares in favor of Mr. Clay;
from which I infer that he adopts the sentiments of Mr. Clay,
generally at least. On the other hand, I have heard of but one
Whig who has been to the war attempting to justify the
President’s conduct. That one was Captain Bishop, editor of the
Charleston Courier, and a very clever fellow. I do not mean this
letter for the public, but for you. Before it reaches you, you
will have seen and read my pamphlet speech, and perhaps been
scared anew by it. After you get over your scare, read it over
again, sentence by sentence, and tell me honestly what you think
of it. I condensed all I could for fear of being cut off by the
hour rule, and when I got through I had spoken but forty-five

Yours forever,



WASHINGTON, February 2, 1848

DEAR WILLIAM:–I just take my pen to say that Mr. Stephens, of
Georgia, a little, slim, pale-faced, consumptive man, with a
voice like Logan’s, has just concluded the very best speech of an
hour’s length I ever heard. My old withered dry eyes are full of
tears yet.

If he writes it out anything like he delivered it, our people
shall see a good many copies of it.

Yours truly,




WASHINGTON, February 15, 1848.

DEAR WILLIAM:–Your letter of the 29th January was received last
night. Being exclusively a constitutional argument, I wish to
submit some reflections upon it in the same spirit of kindness
that I know actuates you. Let me first state what I understand
to be your position. It is that if it shall become necessary to
repel invasion, the President may, without violation of the
Constitution, cross the line and invade the territory of another
country, and that whether such necessity exists in any given case
the President is the sole judge.

Before going further consider well whether this is or is not your
position. If it is, it is a position that neither the President
himself, nor any friend of his, so far as I know, has ever taken.
Their only positions are–first, that the soil was ours when the
hostilities commenced; and second, that whether it was rightfully
ours or not, Congress had annexed it, and the President for that
reason was bound to defend it; both of which are as clearly
proved to be false in fact as you can prove that your house is
mine. The soil was not ours, and Congress did not annex or
attempt to annex it. But to return to your position. Allow the
President to invade a neighboring nation whenever he shall deem
it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so
whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such
purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure. Study to see
if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect, after
having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should
choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent
the British from invading us, how could you stop him? You may
say to him,–I see no probability of the British invading us”;
but he will say to you, “Be silent: I see it, if you don’t.”

The provision of the Constitution giving the war making power to
Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following
reasons: kings had always been involving and impoverishing their
people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the
good of the people was the object. This our convention
understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions,
and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man
should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us. But
your view destroys the whole matter, and places our President
where kings have always stood. Write soon again.

Yours truly,



MARCH 9, 1848.

Mr. Lincoln, from the Committee on the Postoffice and Post Roads,
made the following report:

The Committee on the Post-office and Post Roads, to whom was
referred the resolution of the House of Representatives entitled
“An Act authorizing postmasters at county seats of justice to
receive subscriptions for newspapers and periodicals, to be paid
through the agency of the Post-office Department, and for other
purposes,” beg leave to submit the following report

The committee have reason to believe that a general wish pervades
the community at large that some such facility as the proposed
measure should be granted by express law, for subscribing,
through the agency of the Post-office Department, to newspapers
and periodicals which diffuse daily, weekly, or monthly
intelligence of passing events. Compliance with this general
wish is deemed to be in accordance with our republican
institutions, which can be best sustained by the diffusion of
knowledge and the due encouragement of a universal, national
spirit of inquiry and discussion of public events through the
medium of the public press. The committee, however, has not been
insensible to its duty of guarding the Post-office Department
against injurious sacrifices for the accomplishment of this
object, whereby its ordinary efficacy might be impaired or
embarrassed. It has therefore been a subject of much
consideration; but it is now confidently hoped that the bill
herewith submitted effectually obviates all objections which
might exist with regard to a less matured proposition.

The committee learned, upon inquiry, that the Post-office
Department, in view of meeting the general wish on this subject,
made the experiment through one if its own internal regulations,
when the new postage system went into operation on the first of
July, 1845, and that it was continued until the thirtieth of
September, 1847. But this experiment, for reasons hereafter
stated, proved unsatisfactory, and it was discontinued by order
of the Postmaster-General. As far as the committee can at
present ascertain, the following seem to have been the principal
grounds of dissatisfaction in this experiment:

(1) The legal responsibility of postmasters receiving newspaper
subscriptions, or of their sureties, was not defined.

(2) The authority was open to all postmasters instead of being
limited to those of specific offices.

(3) The consequence of this extension of authority was that, in
innumerable instances, the money, without the previous knowledge
or control of the officers of the department who are responsible
for the good management of its finances, was deposited in offices
where it was improper such funds should be placed; and the
repayment was ordered, not by the financial officers, but by the
postmasters, at points where it was inconvenient to the
department so to disburse its funds.

(4) The inconvenience of accumulating uncertain and fluctuating
sums at small offices was felt seriously in consequent
overpayments to contractors on their quarterly collecting orders;
and, in case of private mail routes, in litigation concerning the
misapplication of such funds to the special service of supplying

(5) The accumulation of such funds on draft offices could not be
known to the financial clerks of the department in time to
control it, and too often this rendered uncertain all their
calculations of funds in hand.

(6) The orders of payment were for the most part issued upon the
principal offices, such as New York, Philadelphia, Boston,
Baltimore, etc., where the large offices of publishers are
located, causing an illimitable and uncontrollable drain of the
department funds from those points where it was essential to
husband them for its own regular disbursements. In Philadelphia
alone this drain averaged $5000 per quarter; and in other cities
of the seaboard it was proportionate.

(7) The embarrassment of the department was increased by the
illimitable, uncontrollable, and irresponsible scattering of its
funds from concentrated points suitable for its distributions, to
remote, unsafe, and inconvenient offices, where they could not be
again made available till collected by special agents, or were
transferred at considerable expense into the principal disbursing
offices again.

(8) There was a vast increase of duties thrown upon the limited
force before necessary to conduct the business of the department;
and from the delay of obtaining vouchers impediments arose to the
speedy settlement of accounts with present or retired post-
masters, causing postponements which endangered the liability of
sureties under the act of limitations, and causing much danger of
an increase of such cases.

(9) The most responsible postmasters (at the large offices) were
ordered by the least responsible (at small offices) to make
payments upon their vouchers, without having the means of
ascertaining whether these vouchers were genuine or forged, or if
genuine, whether the signers were in or out of office, or solvent
or defaulters.

(10) The transaction of this business for subscribers and
publishers at the public expense, an the embarrassment,
inconvenience, and delay of th department’s own business
occasioned by it, were not justified by any sufficient
remuneration of revenue to sustain the department, as required in
every other respect with regard to its agency.

The committee, in view of these objections, has been solicitous
to frame a bill which would not be obnoxious to them in principle
or in practical effect.

It is confidently believed that by limiting the offices for
receiving subscriptions to less than one tenth of the number
authorized by the experiment already tried, and designating the
county seat in each county for the purpose, the control of the
department will be rendered satisfactory; particularly as it will
be in the power of the Auditor, who is the officer required by
law to check the accounts, to approve or disapprove of the
deposits, and to sanction not only the payments, but to point out
the place of payment. If these payments should cause a drain on
the principal offices of the seaboard, it will be compensated by
the accumulation of funds at county seats, where the contractors
on those routes can be paid to that extent by the department’s
drafts, with more local convenience to themselves than by drafts
on the seaboard offices.

The legal responsibility for these deposits is defined, and the
accumulation of funds at the point of deposit, and the repayment
at points drawn upon, being known to and controlled by the
Auditor, will not occasion any such embarrassments as were before
felt; the record kept by the Auditor on the passing of the
certificates through his hands will enable him to settle accounts
without the delay occasioned by vouchers being withheld; all
doubt or uncertainty as to the genuineness of certificates, or
the propriety of their issue, will be removed by the Auditor’s
examination and approval; and there can be no risk of loss of
funds by transmission, as the certificate will not be payable
till sanctioned by the Auditor, and after his sanction the payor
need not pay it unless it is presented by the publisher or his
known clerk or agent.

The main principle of equivalent for the agency of the department
is secured by the postage required to be paid upon the
transmission of the certificates, augmenting adequately the post-
office revenue.

The committee, conceiving that in this report all the
difficulties of the subject have been fully and fairly stated,
and that these difficulties have been obviated by the plan
proposed in the accompanying bill, and believing that the measure
will satisfactorily meet the wants and wishes of a very large
portion of the community, beg leave to recommend its adoption.


MARCH 9, 1848.

Mr. Lincoln, from the Committee on the Postoffice and Post Roads,
made the following report:

The Committee on the Post-office and Post Roads, to whom was
referred the petition of H. M. Barney, postmaster at Brimfield,
Peoria County, Illinois, report: That they have been satisfied by
evidence, that on the 15th of December, 1847, said petitioner had
his store, with some fifteen hundred dollars’ worth of goods,
together with all the papers of the post-office, entirely
destroyed by fire; and that the specie funds of the office were
melted down, partially lost and partially destroyed; that this
large individual loss entirely precludes the idea of
embezzlement; that the balances due the department of former
quarters had been only about twenty-five dollars; and that owing
to the destruction of papers, the exact amount due for the
quarter ending December 31, 1847, cannot be ascertained. They
therefore report a joint resolution, releasing said petitioner
from paying anything for the quarter last mentioned.

MARCH 29, 1848.

The bill for raising additional military force for limited time,
etc., was reported from Committee on judiciary; similar bills had
been reported from Committee on, Public Lands and Military

Mr. Lincoln said if there was a general desire on the part of the
House to pass the bill now he should be glad to have it done–
concurring, as he did generally, with the gentleman from Arkansas
[Mr. Johnson] that the postponement might jeopard the safety of
the proposition. If, however, a reference was to be made, he
wished to make a very few remarks in relation to the several
subjects desired by the gentlemen to be embraced in amendments to
the ninth section of the act of the last session of Congress.
The first amendment desired by members of this House had for its
only object to give bounty lands to such persons as had served
for a time as privates, but had never been discharged as such,
because promoted to office. That subject, and no other, was
embraced in this bill. There were some others who desired, while
they were legislating on this subject, that they should also give
bounty lands to the volunteers of the War of 1812. His friend
from Maryland said there were no such men. He [Mr. L.] did not
say there were many, but he was very confident there were some.
His friend from Kentucky near him, [Mr. Gaines] told him he
himself was one.

There was still another proposition touching this matter; that
was, that persons entitled to bounty lands should by law be
entitled to locate these lands in parcels, and not be required to
locate them in one body, as was provided by the existing law.

Now he had carefully drawn up a bill embracing these three
separate propositions, which he intended to propose as a
substitute for all these bills in the House, or in Committee of
the Whole on the State of the Union, at some suitable time. If
there was a disposition on the part of the House to act at once
on this separate proposition, he repeated that, with the
gentlemen from Arkansas, he should prefer it lest they should
lose all. But if there was to be a reference, he desired to
introduce his bill embracing the three propositions, thus
enabling the committee and the House to act at the same time,
whether favorably or unfavorably, upon all. He inquired whether
an amendment was now in order.

The Speaker replied in the negative.


WASHINGTON, April 30, 1848.

DEAR WILLIAMS:–I have not seen in the papers any evidence of a
movement to send a delegate from your circuit to the June
convention. I wish to say that I think it all-important that a
delegate should be sent. Mr. Clay’s chance for an election is
just no chance at all. He might get New York, and that would
have elected in 1844, but it will not now, because he must now,
at the least, lose Tennessee, which he had then, and in addition
the fifteen new votes of Florida, Texas, Iowa, and Wisconsin. I
know our good friend Browning is a great admirer of Mr. Clay, and
I therefore fear he is favoring his nomination. If he is, ask
him to discard feeling, and try if he can possibly, as a matter
of judgment, count the votes necessary to elect him.

In my judgment we can elect nobody but General Taylor; and we
cannot elect him without a nomination. Therefore don’t fail to
send a delegate. Your friend as ever,



MAY 11, 1848.

A bill for the admission of Wisconsin into the Union had been

Mr. Lincoln moved to reconsider the vote by which the bill was
passed. He stated to the House that he had made this motion for
the purpose of obtaining an opportunity to say a few words in
relation to a point raised in the course of the debate on this
bill, which he would now proceed to make if in order. The point
in the case to which he referred arose on the amendment that was
submitted by the gentleman from Vermont [Mr. Collamer] in
Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union, and which was
afterward renewed in the House, in relation to the question
whether the reserved sections, which, by some bills heretofore
passed, by which an appropriation of land had been made to
Wisconsin, had been enhanced in value, should be reduced to the
minimum price of the public lands. The question of the reduction
in value of those sections was to him at this time a matter very
nearly of indifference. He was inclined to desire that Wisconsin
should be obliged by having it reduced. But the gentleman from
Indiana [Mr. C. B. Smith], the chairman of the Committee on
Territories, yesterday associated that question with the general
question, which is now to some extent agitated in Congress, of
making appropriations of alternate sections of land to aid the
States in making internal improvements, and enhancing the price
of the sections reserved, and the gentleman from Indiana took
ground against that policy. He did not make any special argument
in favor of Wisconsin, but he took ground generally against the
policy of giving alternate sections of land, and enhancing the
price of the reserved sections. Now he [Mr. Lincoln] did not at
this time take the floor for the purpose of attempting to make an
argument on the general subject. He rose simply to protest
against the doctrine which the gentleman from Indiana had avowed
in the course of what he [Mr. Lincoln] could not but consider an
unsound argument.

It might, however, be true, for anything he knew, that the
gentleman from Indiana might convince him that his argument was
sound; but he [Mr. Lincoln] feared that gentleman would not be
able to convince a majority in Congress that it was sound. It
was true the question appeared in a different aspect to persons
in consequence of a difference in the point from which they
looked at it. It did not look to persons residing east of the
mountains as it did to those who lived among the public lands.
But, for his part, he would state that if Congress would make a
donation of alternate sections of public land for the purpose of
internal improvements in his State, and forbid the reserved
sections being sold at $1.25, he should be glad to see the
appropriation made; though he should prefer it if the reserved
sections were not enhanced in price. He repeated, he should be
glad to have such appropriations made, even though the reserved
sections should be enhanced in price. He did not wish to be
understood as concurring in any intimation that they would refuse
to receive such an appropriation of alternate sections of land
because a condition enhancing the price of the reserved sections
should be attached thereto. He believed his position would now
be understood: if not, he feared he should not be able to make
himself understood.

But, before he took his seat, he would remark that the Senate
during the present session had passed a bill making
appropriations of land on that principle for the benefit of the
State in which he resided the State of Illinois. The alternate
sections were to be given for the purpose of constructing roads,
and the reserved sections were to be enhanced in value in
consequence. When that bill came here for the action of this
House–it had been received, and was now before the Committee on
Public Lands–he desired much to see it passed as it was, if it
could be put in no more favorable form for the State of Illinois.
When it should be before this House, if any member from a section
of the Union in which these lands did not lie, whose interest
might be less than that which he felt, should propose a reduction
of the price of the reserved sections to $1.25, he should be much
obliged; but he did not think it would be well for those who came
from the section of the Union in which the lands lay to do so.
–He wished it, then, to be understood that he did not join in
the warfare against the principle which had engaged the minds of
some members of Congress who were favorable to the improvements
in the western country. There was a good deal of force, he
admitted, in what fell from the chairman of the Committee on
Territories. It might be that there was no precise justice in
raising the price of the reserved sections to $2.50 per acre. It
might be proper that the price should be enhanced to some extent,
though not to double the usual price; but he should be glad to
have such an appropriation with the reserved sections at $2.50;
he should be better pleased to have the price of those sections
at something less; and he should be still better pleased to have
them without any enhancement at all.

There was one portion of the argument of the gentleman from
Indiana, the chairman of the Committee on Territories [Mr.
Smith], which he wished to take occasion to say that he did not
view as unsound. He alluded to the statement that the General
Government was interested in these internal improvements being
made, inasmuch as they increased the value of the lands that were
unsold, and they enabled the government to sell the lands which
could not be sold without them. Thus, then, the government
gained by internal improvements as well as by the general good
which the people derived from them, and it might be, therefore,
that the lands should not be sold for more than $1.50 instead of
the price being doubled. He, however, merely mentioned this in
passing, for he only rose to state, as the principle of giving
these lands for the purposes which he had mentioned had been laid
hold of and considered favorably, and as there were some
gentlemen who had constitutional scruples about giving money for
these purchases who would not hesitate to give land, that he was
not willing to have it understood that he was one of those who
made war against that principle. This was all he desired to say,
and having accomplished the object with which he rose, he
withdrew his motion to reconsider.



WASHINGTON, April 30,1848.


I have this moment received your very short note asking me if old
Taylor is to be used up, and who will be the nominee. My hope of
Taylor’s nomination is as high–a little higher than it was when
you left. Still, the case is by no means out of doubt. Mr.
Clay’s letter has not advanced his interests any here. Several
who were against Taylor, but not for anybody particularly,
before, are since taking ground, some for Scott and some for
McLean. Who will be nominated neither I nor any one else can
tell. Now, let me pray to you in turn. My prayer is that you
let nothing discourage or baffle you, but that, in spite of every
difficulty, you send us a good Taylor delegate from your circuit.
Make Baker, who is now with you, I suppose, help about it. He is
a good hand to raise a breeze.

General Ashley, in the Senate from Arkansas, died yesterday.
Nothing else new beyond what you see in the papers.

Yours truly,




WASHINGTON, May 21, 1848.


….Not in view of all the facts. There are facts which you have
kept out of view. It is a fact that the United States army in
marching to the Rio Grande marched into a peaceful Mexican
settlement, and frightened the inhabitants away from their homes
and their growing crops. It is a fact that Fort Brown, opposite
Matamoras, was built by that army within a Mexican cotton-field,
on which at the time the army reached it a young cotton crop was
growing, and which crop was wholly destroyed and the field itself
greatly and permanently injured by ditches, embankments, and the
like. It is a fact that when the Mexicans captured Captain
Thornton and his command, they found and captured them within
another Mexican field.

Now I wish to bring these facts to your notice, and to ascertain
what is the result of your reflections upon them. If you deny
that they are facts, I think I can furnish proofs which shall
convince you that you are mistaken. If you admit that they are
facts, then I shall be obliged for a reference to any law of
language, law of States, law of nations, law of morals, law of
religions, any law, human or divine, in which an authority can be
found for saying those facts constitute “no aggression.”

Possibly you consider those acts too small for notice. Would you
venture to so consider them had they been committed by any nation
on earth against the humblest of our people? I know you would
not. Then I ask, is the precept “Whatsoever ye would that men
should do to you, do ye even so to them” obsolete? of no force?
of no application?

Yours truly,




WASHINGTON, June 12, 1848.

DEAR WILLIAMS:–On my return from Philadelphia, where I had been
attending the nomination of “Old Rough,” (Zachary Taylor) I found
your letter in a mass of others which had accumulated in my
absence. By many, and often, it had been said they would not
abide the nomination of Taylor; but since the deed has been done,
they are fast falling in, and in my opinion we shall have a most
overwhelming, glorious triumph. One unmistakable sign is that
all the odds and ends are with us–Barnburners, Native Americans,
Tyler men, disappointed office-seeking Locofocos, and the Lord
knows what. This is important, if in nothing else, in showing
which way the wind blows. Some of the sanguine men have set down
all the States as certain for Taylor but Illinois, and it as
doubtful. Cannot something be done even in Illinois? Taylor’s
nomination takes the Locos on the blind side. It turns the war
thunder against them. The war is now to them the gallows of
Haman, which they built for us, and on which they are doomed to
be hanged themselves.

Excuse this short letter. I have so many to write that I cannot
devote much time to any one.

Yours as ever,



JUNE 20, 1848.

In Committee of the Whole on the State of the Union, on the Civil
and Diplomatic Appropriation Bill:

Mr. CHAIRMAN:–I wish at all times in no way to practise any
fraud upon the House or the committee, and I also desire to do
nothing which may be very disagreeable to any of the members. I
therefore state in advance that my object in taking the floor is
to make a speech on the general subject of internal improvements;
and if I am out of order in doing so, I give the chair an
opportunity of so deciding, and I will take my seat.

The Chair: I will not undertake to anticipate what the gentleman
may say on the subject of internal improvements. He will,
therefore, proceed in his remarks, and if any question of order
shall be made, the chair will then decide it.

Mr. Lincoln: At an early day of this session the President sent
us what may properly be called an internal improvement veto
message. The late Democratic convention, which sat at Baltimore,
and which nominated General Cass for the Presidency, adopted a
set of resolutions, now called the Democratic platform, among
which is one in these words:

“That the Constitution does not confer upon the General
Government the power to commence and carry on a general system of
internal improvements.”

General Cass, in his letter accepting the nomination, holds this

“I have carefully read the resolutions of the Democratic national
convention, laying down the platform of our political faith, and
I adhere to them as firmly as I approve them cordially.”

These things, taken together, show that the question of internal
improvements is now more distinctly made–has become more intense
–than at any former period. The veto message and the Baltimore
resolution I understand to be, in substance, the same thing; the
latter being the more general statement, of which the former is
the amplification the bill of particulars. While I know there
are many Democrats, on this floor and elsewhere, who disapprove
that message, I understand that all who voted for General Cass
will thereafter be counted as having approved it, as having
indorsed all its doctrines.

I suppose all, or nearly all, the Democrats will vote for him.
Many of them will do so not because they like his position on
this question, but because they prefer him, being wrong on this,
to another whom they consider farther wrong on other questions.
In this way the internal improvement Democrats are to be, by a
sort of forced consent, carried over and arrayed against
themselves on this measure of policy. General Cass, once
elected, will not trouble himself to make a constitutional
argument, or perhaps any argument at all, when he shall veto a
river or harbor bill; he will consider it a sufficient answer to
all Democratic murmurs to point to Mr. Polk’s message, and to the
Democratic platform. This being the case, the question of
improvements is verging to a final crisis; and the friends of
this policy must now battle, and battle manfully, or surrender
all. In this view, humble as I am, I wish to review, and contest
as well as I may, the general positions of this veto message.
When I say general positions, I mean to exclude from
consideration so much as relates to the present embarrassed state
of the treasury in consequence of the Mexican War.

Those general positions are: that internal improvements ought not
to be made by the General Government–First. Because they would
overwhelm the treasury Second. Because, while their burdens
would be general, their benefits would be local and partial,
involving an obnoxious inequality; and Third. Because they would
be unconstitutional. Fourth. Because the States may do enough
by the levy and collection of tonnage duties; or if not–Fifth.
That the Constitution may be amended. “Do nothing at all, lest
you do something wrong,” is the sum of these positions is the sum
of this message. And this, with the exception of what is said
about constitutionality, applying as forcibly to what is said
about making improvements by State authority as by the national
authority; so that we must abandon the improvements of the
country altogether, by any and every authority, or we must resist
and repudiate the doctrines of this message. Let us attempt the

The first position is, that a system of internal improvements
would overwhelm the treasury. That in such a system there is a
tendency to undue expansion, is not to be denied. Such tendency
is founded in the nature of the subject. A member of Congress
will prefer voting for a bill which contains an appropriation for
his district, to voting for one which does not; and when a bill
shall be expanded till every district shall be provided for, that
it will be too greatly expanded is obvious. But is this any more
true in Congress than in a State Legislature? If a member of
Congress must have an appropriation for his district, so a member
of a Legislature must have one for his county. And if one will
overwhelm the national treasury, so the other will overwhelm the
State treasury. Go where we will, the difficulty is the same.
Allow it to drive us from the halls of Congress, and it will,
just as easily, drive us from the State Legislatures. Let us,
then, grapple with it, and test its strength. Let us, judging of
the future by the past, ascertain whether there may not be, in
the discretion of Congress, a sufficient power to limit and
restrain this expansive tendency within reasonable and proper
bounds. The President himself values the evidence of the past.
He tells us that at a certain point of our history more than two
hundred millions of dollars had been applied for to make
improvements; and this he does to prove that the treasury would
be overwhelmed by such a system. Why did he not tell us how much
was granted? Would not that have been better evidence? Let us
turn to it, and see what it proves. In the message the President
tells us that “during the four succeeding years embraced by the
administration of President Adams, the power not only to
appropriate money, but to apply it, under the direction and
authority of the General Government, as well to the construction
of roads as to the improvement of harbors and rivers, was fully
asserted and exercised.” This, then, was the period of greatest
enormity. These, if any, must have been the days of the two
hundred millions. And how much do you suppose was really
expended for improvements during that four years? Two hundred
millions? One hundred? Fifty? Ten? Five? No, sir; less than
two millions. As shown by authentic documents, the expenditures
on improvements during 1825, 1826, 1827, and 1828 amounted to one
million eight hundred and seventy-nine thousand six hundred and
twenty-seven dollars and one cent. These four years were the
period of Mr. Adams’s administration, nearly and substantially.
This fact shows that when the power to make improvements “was
fully asserted and exercised,” the Congress did keep within
reasonable limits; and what has been done, it seems to me, can be
done again.

Now for the second portion of the message–namely, that the
burdens of improvements would be general, while their benefits
would be local and partial, involving an obnoxious inequality.
That there is some degree of truth in this position, I shall not
deny. No commercial object of government patronage can be so
exclusively general as to not be of some peculiar local
advantage. The navy, as I understand it, was established, and is
maintained at a great annual expense, partly to be ready for war
when war shall come, and partly also, and perhaps chiefly, for
the protection of our commerce on the high seas. This latter
object is, for all I can see, in principle the same as internal
improvements. The driving a pirate from the track of commerce on
the broad ocean, and the removing of a snag from its more narrow
path in the Mississippi River, cannot, I think, be distinguished
in principle. Each is done to save life and property, and for
nothing else.

The navy, then, is the most general in its benefits of all this
class of objects; and yet even the navy is of some peculiar
advantage to Charleston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and
Boston, beyond what it is to the interior towns of Illinois. The
next most general object I can think of would be improvements on
the Mississippi River and its tributaries. They touch thirteen
of our States-Pennsylvania, Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee,
Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana,
Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Now I suppose it will not be denied
that these thirteen States are a little more interested in
improvements on that great river than are the remaining
seventeen. These instances of the navy and the Mississippi River
show clearly that there is something of local advantage in the
most general objects. But the converse is also true. Nothing is
so local as to not be of some general benefit. Take, for
instance, the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Considered apart from
its effects, it is perfectly local. Every inch of it is within
the State of Illinois. That canal was first opened for business
last April. In a very few days we were all gratified to learn,
among other things, that sugar had been carried from New Orleans
through this canal to Buffalo in New York. This sugar took this
route, doubtless, because it was cheaper than the old route.
Supposing benefit of the reduction in the cost of carriage to be
shared between seller and the buyer, result is that the New
Orleans merchant sold his sugar a little dearer, and the people
of Buffalo sweetened their coffee a little cheaper, than before,-
-a benefit resulting from the canal, not to Illinois, where the
canal is, but to Louisiana and New York, where it is not. In
other transactions Illinois will, of course, have her share, and
perhaps the larger share too, of the benefits of the canal; but
this instance of the sugar clearly shows that the benefits of an
improvement are by no means confined to the particular locality
of the improvement itself. The just conclusion from all this is
that if the nation refuse to make improvements of the more
general kind because their benefits may be somewhat local, a
State may for the same reason refuse to make an improvement of a
local kind because its benefits may be somewhat general. A State
may well say to the nation, “If you will do nothing for me, I
will do nothing for you.” Thus it is seen that if this argument
of “inequality” is sufficient anywhere, it is sufficient
everywhere, and puts an end to improvements altogether. I hope
and believe that if both the nation and the States would, in good
faith, in their respective spheres do what they could in the way
of improvements, what of inequality might be produced in one
place might be compensated in another, and the sum of the whole
might not be very unequal.

But suppose, after all, there should be some degree of
inequality. Inequality is certainly never to be embraced for its
own sake; but is every good thing to be discarded which may be
inseparably connected with some degree of it? If so, we must
discard all government. This Capitol is built at the public
expense, for the public benefit; but does any one doubt that it
is of some peculiar local advantage to the property-holders and
business people of Washington? Shall we remove it for this
reason? And if so, where shall we set it down, and be free from
the difficulty? To make sure of our object, shall we locate it
nowhere, and have Congress hereafter to hold its sessions, as the
loafer lodged, “in spots about”? I make no allusion to the
present President when I say there are few stronger cases in this
world of “burden to the many and benefit to the few,” of
“inequality,” than the Presidency itself is by some thought to
be. An honest laborer digs coal at about seventy cents a day,
while the President digs abstractions at about seventy dollars a
day. The coal is clearly worth more than the abstractions, and
yet what a monstrous inequality in the prices! Does the
President, for this reason, propose to abolish the Presidency?
He does not, and he ought not. The true rule, in determining to
embrace or reject anything, is not whether it have any evil in
it, but whether it have more of evil than of good. There are few
things wholly evil or wholly good. Almost everything, especially
of government policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so
that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is
continually demanded. On this principle the President, his
friends, and the world generally act on most subjects. Why not
apply it, then, upon this question? Why, as to improvements,
magnify the evil, and stoutly refuse to see any good in them?

Mr. Chairman, on the third position of the message the
constitutional question–I have not much to say. Being the man I
am, and speaking, where I do, I feel that in any attempt at an
original constitutional argument I should not be and ought not to
be listened to patiently. The ablest and the best of men have
gone over the whole ground long ago. I shall attempt but little
more than a brief notice of what some of them have said. In
relation to Mr. Jefferson’s views, I read from Mr. Polk’s veto

“President Jefferson, in his message to Congress in 1806,
recommended an amendment of the Constitution, with a view to
apply an anticipated surplus in the treasury ‘to the great
purposes of the public education, roads, rivers, canals, and such
other objects of public improvement as it may be thought proper
to add to the constitutional enumeration of the federal powers’;
and he adds: ‘I suppose an amendment to the Constitution, by
consent of the States, necessary, because the objects now
recommended are not among those enumerated in the Constitution,
and to which it permits the public moneys to be applied.’ In
1825, he repeated in his published letters the opinion that no
such power has been conferred upon Congress.”

I introduce this not to controvert just now the constitutional
opinion, but to show that, on the question of expediency, Mr.
Jefferson’s opinion was against the present President; that this
opinion of Mr. Jefferson, in one branch at least, is in the hands
of Mr. Polk like McFingal’s gun–“bears wide and kicks the owner

But to the constitutional question. In 1826 Chancellor Kent
first published his Commentaries on American law. He devoted a
portion of one of the lectures to the question of the authority
of Congress to appropriate public moneys for internal
improvements. He mentions that the subject had never been
brought under judicial consideration, and proceeds to give a
brief summary of the discussion it had undergone between the
legislative and executive branches of the government. He shows
that the legislative branch had usually been for, and the
executive against, the power, till the period of Mr. J.Q. Adams’s
administration, at which point he considers the executive
influence as withdrawn from opposition, and added to the support
of the power. In 1844 the chancellor published a new edition of
his Commentaries, in which he adds some notes of what had
transpired on the question since 1826. I have not time to read
the original text on the notes; but the whole may be found on
page 267, and the two or three following pages, of the first
volume of the edition of 1844. As to what Chancellor Kent seems
to consider the sum of the whole, I read from one of the notes:

“Mr. Justice Story, in his Commentaries on the Constitution of
the United States, Vol. II., pp. 429-440, and again pp. 519-538,
has stated at large the arguments for and against the proposition
that Congress have a constitutional authority to lay taxes and to
apply the power to regulate commerce as a means directly to
encourage and protect domestic manufactures; and without giving
any opinion of his own on the contested doctrine, he has left the
reader to draw his own conclusions. I should think, however,
from the arguments as stated, that every mind which has taken no
part in the discussion, and felt no prejudice or territorial bias
on either side of the question, would deem the arguments in favor
of the Congressional power vastly superior.”

It will be seen that in this extract the power to make
improvements is not directly mentioned; but by examining the
context, both of Kent and Story, it will be seen that the power
mentioned in the extract and the power to make improvements are
regarded as identical. It is not to be denied that many great
and good men have been against the power; but it is insisted that
quite as many, as great and as good, have been for it; and it is
shown that, on a full survey of the whole, Chancellor Kent was of
opinion that the arguments of the latter were vastly superior.
This is but the opinion of a man; but who was that man? He was
one of the ablest and most learned lawyers of his age, or of any
age. It is no disparagement to Mr. Polk, nor indeed to any one
who devotes much time to politics, to be placed far behind
Chancellor Kent as a lawyer. His attitude was most favorable to
correct conclusions. He wrote coolly, and in retirement. He was
struggling to rear a durable monument of fame; and he well knew
that truth and thoroughly sound reasoning were the only sure
foundations. Can the party opinion of a party President on a law
question, as this purely is, be at all compared or set in
opposition to that of such a man, in such an attitude, as
Chancellor Kent? This constitutional question will probably
never be better settled than it is, until it shall pass under
judicial consideration; but I do think no man who is clear on the
questions of expediency need feel his conscience much pricked
upon this.

Mr. Chairman, the President seems to think that enough may be
done, in the way of improvements, by means of tonnage duties
under State authority, with the consent of the General
Government. Now I suppose this matter of tonnage duties is well
enough in its own sphere. I suppose it may be efficient, and
perhaps sufficient, to make slight improvements and repairs in
harbors already in use and not much out of repair. But if I have
any correct general idea of it, it must be wholly inefficient for
any general beneficent purposes of improvement. I know very
little, or rather nothing at all, of the practical matter of
levying and collecting tonnage duties; but I suppose one of its
principles must be to lay a duty for the improvement of any
particular harbor upon the tonnage coming into that harbor; to do
otherwise–to collect money in one harbor, to be expended on
improvements in another–would be an extremely aggravated form of
that inequality which the President so much deprecates. If I be
right in this, how could we make any entirely new improvement by
means of tonnage duties? How make a road, a canal, or clear a
greatly obstructed river? The idea that we could involves the
same absurdity as the Irish bull about the new boots. “I shall
niver git ’em on,” says Patrick, “till I wear ’em a day or two,
and stretch ’em a little.” We shall never make a canal by
tonnage duties until it shall already have been made awhile, so
the tonnage can get into it.

After all, the President concludes that possibly there may be
some great objects of improvement which cannot be effected by
tonnage duties, and which it therefore may be expedient for the
General Government to take in hand. Accordingly he suggests, in
case any such be discovered, the propriety of amending the
Constitution. Amend it for what? If, like Mr. Jefferson, the
President thought improvements expedient, but not constitutional,
it would be natural enough for him to recommend such an
amendment. But hear what he says in this very message:

“In view of these portentous consequences, I cannot but think
that this course of legislation should be arrested, even were
there nothing to forbid it in the fundamental laws of our Union.”

For what, then, would he have the Constitution amended? With him
it is a proposition to remove one impediment merely to be met by
others which, in his opinion, cannot be removed, to enable
Congress to do what, in his opinion, they ought not to do if they

Here Mr. Meade of Virginia inquired if Mr. Lincoln understood the
President to be opposed, on grounds of expediency, to any and
every improvement.

Mr. Lincoln answered: In the very part of his message of which I
am speaking, I understand him as giving some vague expression in
favor of some possible objects of improvement; but in doing so I
understand him to be directly on the teeth of his own arguments
in other parts of it. Neither the President nor any one can
possibly specify an improvement which shall not be clearly liable
to one or another of the objections he has urged on the score of
expediency. I have shown, and might show again, that no work–no
object–can be so general as to dispense its benefits with
precise equality; and this inequality is chief among the
“portentous consequences” for which he declares that improvements
should be arrested. No, sir. When the President intimates that
something in the way of improvements may properly be done by the
General Government, he is shrinking from the conclusions to which
his own arguments would force him. He feels that the
improvements of this broad and goodly land are a mighty interest;
and he is unwilling to confess to the people, or perhaps to
himself, that he has built an argument which, when pressed to its
conclusions, entirely annihilates this interest.

I have already said that no one who is satisfied of the
expediency of making improvements needs be much uneasy in his
conscience about its constitutionality. I wish now to submit a
few remarks on the general proposition of amending the
Constitution. As a general rule, I think we would much better
let it alone. No slight occasion should tempt us to touch it.
Better not take the first step, which may lead to a habit of
altering it. Better, rather, habituate ourselves to think of it
as unalterable. It can scarcely be made better than it is. New
provisions would introduce new difficulties, and thus create and
increase appetite for further change. No, sir; let it stand as
it is. New hands have never touched it. The men who made it
have done their work, and have passed away. Who shall improve on
what they did?

Mr. Chairman, for the purpose of reviewing this message in the
least possible time, as well as for the sake of distinctness, I
have analyzed its arguments as well as I could, and reduced them
to the propositions I have stated. I have now examined them in
detail. I wish to detain the committee only a little while
longer with some general remarks upon the subject of
improvements. That the subject is a difficult one, cannot be
denied. Still it is no more difficult in Congress than in the
State Legislatures, in the counties, or in the smallest municipal
districts which anywhere exist. All can recur to instances of
this difficulty in the case of county roads, bridges, and the
like. One man is offended because a road passes over his land,
and another is offended because it does not pass over his; one is
dissatisfied because the bridge for which he is taxed crosses the
river on a different road from that which leads from his house to
town; another cannot bear that the county should be got in debt
for these same roads and bridges; while not a few struggle hard
to have roads located over their lands, and then stoutly refuse
to let them be opened until they are first paid the damages.
Even between the different wards and streets of towns and cities
we find this same wrangling and difficulty. Now these are no
other than the very difficulties against which, and out of which,
the President constructs his objections of “inequality,”
“speculation,” and “crushing the treasury.” There is but a
single alternative about them: they are sufficient, or they are
not. If sufficient, they are sufficient out of Congress as well
as in it, and there is the end. We must reject them as
insufficient, or lie down and do nothing by any authority. Then,
difficulty though there be, let us meet and encounter it.
“Attempt the end, and never stand to doubt; nothing so hard, but
search will find it out.” Determine that the thing can and shall
be done, and then we shall find the way. The tendency to undue
expansion is unquestionably the chief difficulty.

How to do something, and still not do too much, is the
desideratum. Let each contribute his mite in the way of
suggestion. The late Silas Wright, in a letter to the Chicago
convention, contributed his, which was worth something; and I now
contribute mine, which may be worth nothing. At all events, it
will mislead nobody, and therefore will do no harm. I would not
borrow money. I am against an overwhelming, crushing system.
Suppose that, at each session, Congress shall first determine how
much money can, for that year, be spared for improvements; then
apportion that sum to the most important objects. So far all is
easy; but how shall we determine which are the most important?
On this question comes the collision of interests. I shall be
slow to acknowledge that your harbor or your river is more
important than mine, and vice versa. To clear this difficulty,
let us have that same statistical information which the gentleman
from Ohio [Mr. Vinton] suggested at the beginning of this
session. In that information we shall have a stern, unbending
basis of facts–a basis in no wise subject to whim, caprice, or
local interest. The prelimited amount of means will save us from
doing too much, and the statistics will save us from doing what
we do in wrong places. Adopt and adhere to this course, and, it
seems to me, the difficulty is cleared.

One of the gentlemen from South Carolina [Mr. Rhett] very much
deprecates these statistics. He particularly objects, as I
understand him, to counting all the pigs and chickens in the
land. I do not perceive much force in the objection. It is true
that if everything be enumerated, a portion of such statistics
may not be very useful to this object. Such products of the
country as are to be consumed where they are produced need no
roads or rivers, no means of transportation, and have no very
proper connection with this subject. The surplus–that which is
produced in one place to be consumed in another; the capacity of
each locality for producing a greater surplus; the natural means
of transportation, and their susceptibility of improvement; the
hindrances, delays, and losses of life and property during
transportation, and the causes of each, would be among the most
valuable statistics in this connection. From these it would
readily appear where a given amount of expenditure would do the
most good. These statistics might be equally accessible, as they
would be equally useful, to both the nation and the States. In
this way, and by these means, let the nation take hold of the
larger works, and the States the smaller ones; and thus, working
in a meeting direction, discreetly, but steadily and firmly, what
is made unequal in one place may be equalized in another,
extravagance avoided, and the whole country put on that career of
prosperity which shall correspond with its extent of territory,
its natural resources, and the intelligence and enterprise of its



WASHINGTON, June 22, 1848.

DEAR WILLIAM:–Last night I was attending a sort of caucus of the
Whig members, held in relation to the coming Presidential
election. The whole field of the nation was scanned, and all is
high hope and confidence. Illinois is expected to better her
condition in this race. Under these circumstances, judge how
heartrending it was to come to my room and find and read your
discouraging letter of the 15th. We have made no gains, but have
lost “H. R. Robinson, Turner, Campbell, and four or five more.”
Tell Arney to reconsider, if he would be saved. Baker and I used
to do something, but I think you attach more importance to our
absence than is just. There is another cause. In 1840, for
instance, we had two senators and five representatives in
Sangamon; now we have part of one senator and two
representatives. With quite one third more people than we had
then, we have only half the sort of offices which are sought by
men of the speaking sort of talent. This, I think, is the chief
cause. Now, as to the young men. You must not wait to be
brought forward by the older men. For instance, do you suppose
that I should ever have got into notice if I had waited to be
hunted up and pushed forward by older men? You young men get
together and form a “Rough and Ready Club,” and have regular
meetings and speeches. Take in everybody you can get. Harrison
Grimsley, L. A. Enos, Lee Kimball, and C. W. Matheny will do
to begin the thing; but as you go along gather up all the shrewd,
wild boys about town, whether just of age, or a little under age,
Chris. Logan, Reddick Ridgely, Lewis Zwizler, and hundreds such.
Let every one play the part he can play best,–some speak, some
sing, and all “holler.” Your meetings will be of evenings; the
older men, and the women, will go to hear you; so that it will
not only contribute to the election of “Old Zach,” but will be an
interesting pastime, and improving to the intellectual faculties
of all engaged. Don’t fail to do this.

You ask me to send you all the speeches made about “Old Zach,”
the war, etc. Now this makes me a little impatient. I have
regularly sent you the Congressional Globe and Appendix, and you
cannot have examined them, or you would have discovered that they
contain every speech made by every man in both houses of
Congress, on every subject, during the session. Can I send any
more? Can I send speeches that nobody has made? Thinking it
would be most natural that the newspapers would feel interested
to give at least some of the speeches to their readers, I at the
beginning of the session made arrangements to have one copy of
the Globe and Appendix regularly sent to each Whig paper of the
district. And yet, with the exception of my own little speech,
which was published in two only of the then five, now four, Whig
papers, I do not remember having seen a single speech, or even
extract from one, in any single one of those papers. With equal
and full means on both sides, I will venture that the State
Register has thrown before its readers more of Locofoco speeches
in a month than all the Whig papers of the district have done of
Whig speeches during the session.

If you wish a full understanding of the war, I repeat what I
believe I said to you in a letter once before, that the whole, or
nearly so, is to be found in the speech of Dixon of Connecticut.
This I sent you in pamphlet as well as in the Globe. Examine and
study every sentence of that speech thoroughly, and you will
understand the whole subject. You ask how Congress came to
declare that war had existed by the act of Mexico. Is it
possible you don’t understand that yet? You have at least twenty
speeches in your possession that fully explain it. I will,
however, try it once more. The news reached Washington of the
commencement of hostilities on the Rio Grande, and of the great
peril of General Taylor’s army. Everybody, Whigs and Democrats,
was for sending them aid, in men and money. It was necessary to
pass a bill for this. The Locos had a majority in both houses,
and they brought in a bill with a preamble saying: Whereas, War
exists by the act of Mexico, therefore we send General Taylor
money. The Whigs moved to strike out the preamble, so that they
could vote to send the men and money, without saying anything
about how the war commenced; but being in the minority, they were
voted down, and the preamble was retained. Then, on the passage
of the bill, the question came upon them, Shall we vote for
preamble and bill together, or against both together? They did
not want to vote against sending help to General Taylor, and
therefore they voted for both together. Is there any difficulty
in understanding this? Even my little speech shows how this was;
and if you will go to the library, you may get the Journal of
1845-46, in which you will find the whole for yourself.

We have nothing published yet with special reference to the
Taylor race; but we soon will have, and then I will send them to
everybody. I made an internal-improvement speech day before
yesterday, which I shall send home as soon as I can get it
written out and printed,–and which I suppose nobody will read.

Your friend as ever,



JUNE 28, 1848.

Discussion as to salary of judge of western Virginia:–Wishing to
increase it from $1800 to $2500.

Mr. Lincoln said he felt unwilling to be either unjust or
ungenerous, and he wanted to understand the real case of this
judicial officer. The gentleman from Virginia had stated that he
had to hold eleven courts. Now everybody knew that it was not
the habit of the district judges of the United States in other
States to hold anything like that number of courts; and he
therefore took it for granted that this must happen under a
peculiar law which required that large number of courts to be
holden every year; and these laws, he further supposed, were
passed at the request of the people of that judicial district.
It came, then, to this: that the people in the western district
of Virginia had got eleven courts to be held among them in one
year, for their own accommodation; and being thus better
accommodated than neighbors elsewhere, they wanted their judge to
be a little better paid. In Illinois there had been until the
present season but one district court held in the year. There
were now to be two. Could it be that the western district of
Virginia furnished more business for a judge than the whole State
of Illinois?


JULY, 1848,


The question of a national bank is at rest. Were I President, I
should not urge its reagitation upon Congress; but should
Congress see fit to pass an act to establish such an institution,
I should not arrest it by the veto, unless I should consider it
subject to some constitutional objection from which I believe the
two former banks to have been free.



WASHINGTON, July 10, 1848.


Your letter covering the newspaper slips was received last night.
The subject of that letter is exceedingly painful to me, and I
cannot but think there is some mistake in your impression of the
motives of the old men. I suppose I am now one of the old men;
and I declare on my veracity, which I think is good with you,
that nothing could afford me more satisfaction than to learn that
you and others of my young friends at home were doing battle in
the contest and endearing themselves to the people and taking a
stand far above any I have ever been able to reach in their
admiration. I cannot conceive that other men feel differently.
Of course I cannot demonstrate what I say; but I was young once,
and I am sure I was never ungenerously thrust back. I hardly
know what to say. The way for a young man to rise is to improve
himself every way he can, never suspecting that anybody wishes to
hinder him. Allow me to assure you that suspicion and jealousy
never did help any man in any situation. There may sometimes be
ungenerous attempts to keep a young man down; and they will
succeed, too, if he allows his mind to be diverted from its true
channel to brood over the attempted injury. Cast about and see
if this feeling has not injured every person you have ever known
to fall into it.

Now, in what I have said I am sure you will suspect nothing but
sincere friendship. I would save you from a fatal error. You
have been a studious young man. You are far better informed on
almost all subjects than I ever have been. You cannot fail in
any laudable object unless you allow your mind to be improperly
directed. I have some the advantage of you in the world’s
experience, merely by being older; and it is this that induces me
to advise. You still seem to be a little mistaken about the
Congressional Globe and Appendix. They contain all of the
speeches that are published in any way. My speech and Dayton’s
speech which you say you got in pamphlet form are both word for
word in the Appendix. I repeat again, all are there.

Your friend, as ever,



JULY 27, 1848.

Mr. SPEAKER, our Democratic friends seem to be in a great
distress because they think our candidate for the Presidency
don’t suit us. Most of them cannot find out that General Taylor
has any principles at all; some, however, have discovered that he
has one, but that one is entirely wrong. This one principle is
his position on the veto power. The gentleman from Tennessee
[Mr. Stanton] who has just taken his seat, indeed, has said there
is very little, if any, difference on this question between
General Taylor and all the Presidents; and he seems to think it
sufficient detraction from General Taylor’s position on it that
it has nothing new in it. But all others whom I have heard speak
assail it furiously. A new member from Kentucky [Mr. Clark], of
very considerable ability, was in particular concerned about it.
He thought it altogether novel and unprecedented for a President
or a Presidential candidate to think of approving bills whose
constitutionality may not be entirely clear to his own mind. He
thinks the ark of our safety is gone unless Presidents shall
always veto such bills as in their judgment may be of doubtful
constitutionality. However clear Congress may be on their
authority to pass any particular act, the gentleman from Kentucky
thinks the President must veto it if he has doubts about it. Now
I have neither time nor inclination to argue with the gentleman
on the veto power as an original question; but I wish to show
that General Taylor, and not he, agrees with the earlier
statesmen on this question. When the bill chartering the first
Bank of the United States passed Congress, its constitutionality
was questioned. Mr. Madison, then in the House of
Representatives, as well as others, had opposed it on that
ground. General Washington, as President, was called on to
approve or reject it. He sought and obtained on the
constitutionality question the separate written opinions of
Jefferson, Hamilton, and Edmund Randolph,–they then being
respectively Secretary of State, Secretary of the Treasury, and
Attorney general. Hamilton’s opinion was for the power; while
Randolph’s and Jefferson’s were both against it. Mr. Jefferson,
after giving his opinion deciding only against the
constitutionality of the bill, closes his letter with the
paragraph which I now read:

“It must be admitted, however, that unless the President’s mind,
on a view of everything which is urged for and against this bill,
is tolerably clear that it is unauthorized by the Constitution,–
if the pro and con hang so even as to balance his judgment, a
just respect for the wisdom of the legislature would naturally
decide the balance in favor of their opinion. It is chiefly for
cases where they are clearly misled by error, ambition, or
interest, that the Constitution has placed a check in the
negative of the President.
“February 15, 1791.”

General Taylor’s opinion, as expressed in his Allison letter, is
as I now read:

“The power given by the veto is a high conservative power; but,
in my opinion, should never be exercised except in cases of clear
violation of the Constitution, or manifest haste and want of
consideration by Congress.”

It is here seen that, in Mr. Jefferson’s opinion, if on the
constitutionality of any given bill the President doubts, he is
not to veto it, as the gentleman from Kentucky would have him do,
but is to defer to Congress and approve it. And if we compare
the opinion of Jefferson and Taylor, as expressed in these
paragraphs, we shall find them more exactly alike than we can
often find any two expressions having any literal difference.
None but interested faultfinders, I think, can discover any
substantial variation.

But gentlemen on the other side are unanimously agreed that
General Taylor has no other principles. They are in utter
darkness as to his opinions on any of the questions of policy
which occupy the public attention. But is there any doubt as to
what he will do on the prominent questions if elected? Not the
least. It is not possible to know what he will or would do in
every imaginable case, because many questions have passed away,
and others doubtless will arise which none of us have yet thought
of; but on the prominent questions of currency, tariff, internal
improvements, and Wilmot Proviso, General Taylor’s course is at
least as well defined as is General Cass’s. Why, in their
eagerness to get at General Taylor, several Democratic members
here have desired to know whether, in case of his election, a
bankrupt law is to be established. Can they tell us General
Cass’s opinion on this question?

[Some member answered, “He is against it.”]

Aye, how do you know he is? There is nothing about it in the
platform, nor elsewhere, that I have seen. If the gentleman
knows of anything which I do not know he can show it. But to
return. General Taylor, in his Allison letter, says:

“Upon the subject of the tariff, the currency, the improvement of
our great highways, rivers, lakes, and harbors, the will of the
people, as expressed through their representatives in Congress,
ought to be respected and carried out by the executive.”

Now this is the whole matter. In substance, it is this: The
people say to General Taylor, “If you are elected, shall we have
a national bank?” He answers, ” Your will, gentlemen, not mine.
” What about the tariff?” “Say yourselves.” “Shall our rivers
and harbors be improved?” “Just as you please. If you desire a
bank, an alteration of the tariff, internal improvements, any or
all, I will not hinder you. If you do not desire them, I will
not attempt to force them on you. Send up your members of
Congress from the various districts, with opinions according to
your own, and if they are for these measures, or any of them, I
shall have nothing to oppose; if they are not for them, I shall
not, by any appliances whatever, attempt to dragoon them into
their adoption.”

Now can there be any difficulty in understanding this? To you
Democrats it may not seem like principle; but surely you cannot
fail to perceive the position plainly enough. The distinction
between it and the position of your candidate is broad and
obvious, and I admit you have a clear right to show it is wrong
if you can; but you have no right to pretend you cannot see it at
all. We see it, and to us it appears like principle, and the
best sort of principle at that–the principle of allowing the
people to do as they please with their own business. My friend
from Indiana (C. B. Smith] has aptly asked, “Are you willing to
trust the people?” Some of you answered substantially, “We are
willing to trust the people; but the President is as much the
representative of the people as Congress.” In a certain sense,
and to a certain extent, he is the representative of the people.
He is elected by them, as well as Congress is; but can he, in the
nature of things know the wants of the people as well as three
hundred other men, coming from all the various localities of the
nation? If so, where is the propriety of having a Congress?
That the Constitution gives the President a negative on
legislation, all know; but that this negative should be so
combined with platforms and other appliances as to enable him,
and in fact almost compel him, to take the whole of legislation
into his own hands, is what we object to, is what General Taylor
objects to, and is what constitutes the broad distinction between
you and us. To thus transfer legislation is clearly to take it
from those who understand with minuteness the interests of the
people, and give it to one who does not and cannot so well
understand it. I understand your idea that if a Presidential
candidate avow his opinion upon a given question, or rather upon
all questions, and the people, with full knowledge of this, elect
him, they thereby distinctly approve all those opinions. By
means of it, measures are adopted or rejected contrary to the
wishes of the whole of one party, and often nearly half of the
other. Three, four, or half a dozen questions are prominent at a
given time; the party selects its candidate, and he takes his
position on each of these questions. On all but one his
positions have already been indorsed at former elections, and his
party fully committed to them; but that one is new, and a large
portion of them are against it. But what are they to do? The
whole was strung together; and they must take all, or reject all.
They cannot take what they like, and leave the rest. What they
are already committed to being the majority, they shut their
eyes, and gulp the whole. Next election, still another is
introduced in the same way. If we run our eyes along the line of
the past, we shall see that almost if not quite all the articles
of the present Democratic creed have been at first forced upon
the party in this very way. And just now, and just so,
opposition to internal improvements is to be established if
General Cass shall be elected. Almost half the Democrats here
are for improvements; but they will vote for Cass, and if he
succeeds, their vote will have aided in closing the doors against
improvements. Now this is a process which we think is wrong. We
prefer a candidate who, like General Taylor, will allow the
people to have their own way, regardless of his private opinions;
and I should think the internal-improvement Democrats, at least,
ought to prefer such a candidate. He would force nothing on them
which they don’t want, and he would allow them to have
improvements which their own candidate, if elected, will not.

Mr. Speaker, I have said General Taylor’s position is as well
defined as is that of General Cass. In saying this, I admit I do
not certainly know what he would do on the Wilmot Proviso. I am
a Northern man or rather a Western Free-State man, with a
constituency I believe to be, and with personal feelings I know
to be, against the extension of slavery. As such, and with what
information I have, I hope and believe General Taylor, if
elected, would not veto the proviso. But I do not know it. Yet
if I knew he would, I still would vote for him. I should do so
because, in my judgment, his election alone can defeat General
Cass; and because, should slavery thereby go to the territory we
now have, just so much will certainly happen by the election of
Cass, and in addition a course of policy leading to new wars, new
acquisitions of territory and still further extensions of
slavery. One of the two is to be President. Which is

But there is as much doubt of Cass on improvements as there is of
Taylor on the proviso. I have no doubt myself of General Cass on
this question; but I know the Democrats differ among themselves
as to his position. My internal-improvement colleague [Mr.
Wentworth] stated on this floor the other day that he was
satisfied Cass was for improvements, because he had voted for all
the bills that he [Mr. Wentworth] had. So far so good. But Mr.
Polk vetoed some of these very bills. The Baltimore convention
passed a set of resolutions, among other things, approving these
vetoes, and General Cass declares, in his letter accepting the
nomination, that he has carefully read these resolutions, and
that he adheres to them as firmly as he approves them cordially.
In other words, General Cass voted for the bills, and thinks the
President did right to veto them; and his friends here are
amiable enough to consider him as being on one side or the other,
just as one or the other may correspond with their own respective
inclinations. My colleague admits that the platform declares
against the constitutionality of a general system of
improvements, and that General Cass indorses the platform; but he
still thinks General Cass is in favor of some sort of
improvements. Well, what are they? As he is against general
objects, those he is for must be particular and local. Now this
is taking the subject precisely by the wrong end. Particularity
expending the money of the whole people for an object which will
benefit only a portion of them–is the greatest real objection to
improvements, and has been so held by General Jackson, Mr. Polk,
and all others, I believe, till now. But now, behold, the
objects most general–nearest free from this objection–are to be
rejected, while those most liable to it are to be embraced. To
return: I cannot help believing that General Cass, when he wrote
his letter of acceptance, well understood he was to be claimed by
the advocates of both sides of this question, and that he then
closed the door against all further expressions of opinion
purposely to retain the benefits of that double position. His
subsequent equivocation at Cleveland, to my mind, proves such to
have been the case.

One word more, and I shall have done with this branch of the
subject. You Democrats, and your candidate, in the main are in
favor of laying down in advance a platform–a set of party
positions–as a unit, and then of forcing the people, by every
sort of appliance, to ratify them, however unpalatable some of
them may be. We and our candidate are in favor of making
Presidential elections and the legislation of the country
distinct matters; so that the people can elect whom they please,
and afterward legislate just as they please, without any
hindrance, save only so much as may guard against infractions of
the Constitution, undue haste, and want of consideration. The
difference between us is clear as noonday. That we are right we
cannot doubt. We hold the true Republican position. In leaving
the people’s business in their hands, we cannot be wrong. We are
willing, and even anxious, to go to the people on this issue.

But I suppose I cannot reasonably hope to convince you that we
have any principles. The most I can expect is to assure you that
we think we have and are quite contented with them. The other
day one of the gentlemen from Georgia [Mr. Iverson], an eloquent
man, and a man of learning, so far as I can judge, not being
learned myself, came down upon us astonishingly. He spoke in
what the ‘Baltimore American’ calls the “scathing and withering
style.” At the end of his second severe flash I was struck blind,
and found myself feeling with my fingers for an assurance of my
continued existence. A little of the bone was left, and I
gradually revived. He eulogized Mr. Clay in high and beautiful
terms, and then declared that we had deserted all our principles,
and had turned Henry Clay out, like an old horse, to root. This
is terribly severe. It cannot be answered by argument–at least
I cannot so answer it. I merely wish to ask the gentleman if the
Whigs are the only party he can think of who sometimes turn old
horses out to root. Is not a certain Martin Van Buren an old
horse which your own party have turned out to root? and is he
not rooting a little to your discomfort about now? But in not
nominating Mr. Clay we deserted our principles, you say. Ah! In
what? Tell us, ye men of principle, what principle we violated.
We say you did violate principle in discarding Van Buren, and we
can tell you how. You violated the primary, the cardinal, the
one great living principle of all democratic representative
government–the principle that the representative is bound to
carry out the known will of his constituents. A large majority
of the Baltimore convention of 1844 were, by their constituents,
instructed to procure Van Buren ‘s nomination if they could. In
violation–in utter glaring contempt of this, you rejected him;
rejected him, as the gentleman from New York [Mr. Birdsall] the
other day expressly admitted, for availability–that same
“general availability” which you charge upon us, and daily chew
over here, as something exceedingly odious and unprincipled. But
the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Iverson] gave us a second speech
yesterday, all well considered and put down in writing, in which
Van Buren was scathed and withered a “few” for his present
position and movements. I cannot remember the gentleman’s
precise language; but I do remember he put Van Buren down, down,
till he got him where he was finally to “stink” and “rot.”

Mr. Speaker, it is no business or inclination of mine to defend
Martin Van Buren in the war of extermination now waging between
him and his old admirers. I say, “Devil take the hindmost”–and
the foremost. But there is no mistaking the origin of the
breach; and if the curse of “stinking” and “rotting” is to fall
on the first and greatest violators of principle in the matter, I
disinterestedly suggest that the gentleman from Georgia and his
present co-workers are bound to take it upon themselves. But the
gentleman from Georgia further says we have deserted all our
principles, and taken shelter under General Taylor’s military
coat-tail, and he seems to think this is exceedingly degrading.
Well, as his faith is, so be it unto him. But can he remember no
other military coat-tail under which a certain other party have
been sheltering for near a quarter of a century? Has he no
acquaintance with the ample military coat tail of General
Jackson? Does he not know that his own party have run the five
last Presidential races under that coat-tail, and that they are
now running the sixth under the same cover? Yes, sir, that coat-
tail was used not only for General Jackson himself, but has been
clung to, with the grip of death, by every Democratic candidate
since. You have never ventured, and dare not now venture, from
under it. Your campaign papers have constantly been “Old
Hickories,” with rude likenesses of the old general upon them;
hickory poles and hickory brooms your never-ending emblems; Mr.
Polk himself was “Young Hickory,” or something so; and even now
your campaign paper here is proclaiming that Cass and Butler are
of the true “Hickory stripe.” Now, sir, you dare not give it up.
Like a horde of hungry ticks you have stuck to the tail of the
Hermitage Lion to the end of his life; and you are still sticking
to it, and drawing a loathsome sustenance from it, after he is
dead. A fellow once advertised that he had made a discovery by
which he could make a new man out of an old one, and have enough
of the stuff left to make a little yellow dog. Just such a
discovery has General Jackson’s popularity been to you. You not
only twice made President of him out of it, but you have had
enough of the stuff left to make Presidents of several
comparatively small men since; and it is your chief reliance now
to make still another.

Mr. Speaker, old horses and military coat-tails, or tails of any
sort, are not figures of speech such as I would be the first to
introduce into discussions here; but as the gentleman from
Georgia has thought fit to introduce them, he and you are welcome
to all you have made, or can make by them. If you have any more
old horses, trot them out; any more tails, just cock them and
come at us. I repeat, I would not introduce this mode of
discussion here; but I wish gentlemen on the other side to
understand that the use of degrading figures is a game at which
they may not find themselves able to take all the winnings.

[“We give it up!”]

Aye, you give it up, and well you may; but for a very different
reason from that which you would have us understand. The point–
the power to hurt–of all figures consists in the truthfulness of
their application; and, understanding this, you may well give it
up. They are weapons which hit you, but miss us.

But in my hurry I was very near closing this subject of military
tails before I was done with it. There is one entire article of
the sort I have not discussed yet,–I mean the military tail you
Democrats are now engaged in dovetailing into the great
Michigander [Cass]. Yes, sir; all his biographies (and they are
legion) have him in hand, tying him to a military tail, like so
many mischievous boys tying a dog to a bladder of beans. True,
the material they have is very limited, but they drive at it
might and main. He invaded Canada without resistance, and he
outvaded it without pursuit. As he did both under orders, I
suppose there was to him neither credit nor discredit in them;
but they constitute a large part of the tail. He was not at
Hull’s surrender, but he was close by; he was volunteer aid to
General Harrison on the day of the battle of the Thames; and as
you said in 1840 Harrison was picking huckleberries two miles off
while the battle was fought, I suppose it is a just conclusion
with you to say Cass was aiding Harrison to pick huckleberries.
This is about all, except the mooted question of the broken
sword. Some authors say he broke it, some say he threw it away,
and some others, who ought to know, say nothing about it.
Perhaps it would be a fair historical compromise to say, if he
did not break it, he did not do anything else with it.

By the way, Mr. Speaker, did you know I am a military hero? Yes,
sir; in the days of the Black Hawk war I fought, bled, and came
away. Speaking of General Cass’s career reminds me of my own. I
was not at Stiliman’s defeat, but I was about as near it as Cass
was to Hull’s surrender; and, like him, I saw the place very soon
afterward. It is quite certain I did not break my sword, for I
had none to break; but I bent a musket pretty badly on one
occasion. If Cass broke his sword, the idea is he broke it in
desperation; I bent the musket by accident. If General Cass went
in advance of me in picking huckleberries, I guess I surpassed
him in charges upon the wild onions. If he saw any live,
fighting Indians, it was more than I did; but I had a good many
bloody struggles with the mosquitoes, and although I never
fainted from the loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very
hungry. Mr. Speaker, if I should ever conclude to doff whatever
our Democratic friends may suppose there is of black-cockade
federalism about me, and therefore they shall take me up as their
candidate for the Presidency, I protest they shall not make fun
of me, as they have of General Cass, by attempting to write me
into a military hero.

While I have General Cass in hand, I wish to say a word about his
political principles. As a specimen, I take the record of his
progress in the Wilmot Proviso. In the Washington Union of March
2, 1847, there is a report of a speech of General Cass, made the
day before in the Senate, on the Wilmot Proviso, during the
delivery of which Mr. Miller of New Jersey is reported to have
interrupted him as follows, to wit:

“Mr. Miller expressed his great surprise at the change in the
sentiments of the Senator from Michigan, who had been regarded as
the great champion of freedom in the Northwest, of which he was a
distinguished ornament. Last year the Senator from Michigan was
understood to be decidedly in favor of the Wilmot Proviso; and as
no reason had been stated for the change, he [Mr. Miller] could
not refrain from the expression of his extreme surprise.”

To this General Cass is reported to have replied as follows, to

“Mr. Cass said that the course of the Senator from New Jersey was
most extraordinary. Last year he [Mr. Cass] should have voted
for the proposition, had it come up. But circumstances had
altogether changed. The honorable Senator then read several
passages from the remarks, as given above, which he had committed
to writing, in order to refute such a charge as that of the
Senator from New Jersey.”

In the “remarks above reduced to writing” is one numbered four,
as follows, to wit:

“Fourth. Legislation now would be wholly inoperative, because no
territory hereafter to be acquired can be governed without an act
of Congress providing for its government; and such an act, on its
passage, would open the whole subject, and leave the Congress
called on to pass it free to exercise its own discretion,
entirely uncontrolled by any declaration found on the statute-

In Niles’s Register, vol. lxxiii., p. 293, there is a letter of
General Cass to _______Nicholson, of Nashville, Tennessee, dated
December 24, 1847, from which the following are correct extracts:

“The Wilmot Proviso has been before the country some time. It
has been repeatedly discussed in Congress and by the public
press. I am strongly impressed with the opinion that a great
change has been going on in the public mind upon this subject,–
in my own as well as others’,–and that doubts are resolving
themselves into convictions that the principle it involves should
be kept out of the national legislature, and left to the people
of the confederacy in their respective local governments….
Briefly, then, I am opposed to the exercise of any jurisdiction
by Congress over this matter; and I am in favor of leaving the
people of any territory which may be hereafter acquired the right
to regulate it themselves, under the general principles of the
Constitution. Because–‘First. I do not see in the Constitution
any grant of the requisite power to Congress; and I am not
disposed to extend a doubtful precedent beyond its necessity,–
the establishment of territorial governments when needed,–
leaving to the inhabitants all the right compatible with the
relations they bear to the confederation.”

These extracts show that in 1846 General Cass was for the proviso
at once; that in March, 1847, he was still for it, but not just
then; and that in December, 1847, he was against it altogether.
This is a true index to the whole man. When the question was
raised in 1846, he was in a blustering hurry to take ground for
it. He sought to be in advance, and to avoid the uninteresting
position of a mere follower; but soon he began to see glimpses of
the great Democratic ox-goad waving in his face, and to hear
indistinctly a voice saying, “Back! Back, sir! Back a little!” He
shakes his head, and bats his eyes, and blunders back to his
position of March, 1847; but still the goad waves, and the voice
grows more distinct and sharper still, “Back, sir! Back, I say!
Further back!”–and back he goes to the position of December,
1847, at which the goad is still, and the voice soothingly says,
“So! Stand at that!”

Have no fears, gentlemen, of your candidate. He exactly suits
you, and we congratulate you upon it. However much you may be
distressed about our candidate, you have all cause to be
contented and happy with your own. If elected, he may not
maintain all or even any of his positions previously taken; but
he will be sure to do whatever the party exigency for the time
being may require; and that is precisely what you want. He and
Van Buren are the same “manner of men”; and, like Van Buren, he
will never desert you till you first desert him.

Mr. Speaker, I adopt the suggestion of a friend, that General
Cass is a general of splendidly successful charges–charges, to
be sure, not upon the public enemy, but upon the public treasury.
He was Governor of Michigan territory, and ex-officio
Superintendent of Indian Affairs, from the 9th of October, 1813,
till the 31st of July, 1831–a period of seventeen years, nine
months, and twenty-two days. During this period he received from
the United States treasury, for personal services and personal
expenses, the aggregate sum of ninety-six thousand and twenty
eight dollars, being an average of fourteen dollars and seventy-
nine cents per day for every day of the time. This large sum was
reached by assuming that he was doing service at several
different places, and in several different capacities in the same
place, all at the same time. By a correct analysis of his
accounts during that period, the following propositions may be

First. He was paid in three different capacities during the
whole of the time: that is to say–(1) As governor a salary at
the rate per year of $2000. (2) As estimated for office rent,
clerk hire, fuel, etc., in superintendence of Indian affairs in
Michigan, at the rate per year of $1500. (3) As compensation and
expenses for various miscellaneous items of Indian service out of
Michigan, an average per year of $625.

Second. During part of the time–that is, from the 9th of
October, 1813, to the 29th of May, 1822 he was paid in four
different capacities; that is to say, the three as above, and, in
addition thereto, the commutation of ten rations per day,
amounting per year to $730.

Third. During another part of the time–that is, from the
beginning of 1822 to the 31st of July, ’83 he was also paid in
four different capacities; that is to say, the first three, as
above (the rations being dropped after the 29th of May, 1822),
and, in addition thereto, for superintending Indian Agencies at
Piqua, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Chicago, Illinois, at the
rate per year of $1500. It should be observed here that the last
item, commencing at the beginning of 1822, and the item of
rations, ending on the 29th of May, 1822, lap on each other
during so much of the time as lies between those two dates.

Fourth. Still another part of the time–that is, from the 31st
of October, 1821, to the 29th of May, 1822–he was paid in six
different capacities; that is to say, the three first, as above;
the item of rations, as above; and, in addition thereto, another
item of ten rations per day while at Washington settling his
accounts, being at the rate per year of $730; and also an
allowance for expenses traveling to and from Washington, and
while there, of $1022, being at the rate per year of $1793.

Fifth. And yet during the little portion of the time which lies
between the 1st of January, 1822, and the 29th of May, 1822, he
was paid in seven different capacities; that is to say, the six
last mentioned, and also, at the rate of $1500 per year, for the
Piqua, Fort Wayne, and Chicago service, as mentioned above.

These accounts have already been discussed some here; but when we
are amongst them, as when we are in the Patent Office, we must
peep about a good deal before we can see all the curiosities. I
shall not be tedious with them. As to the large item of $1500
per year–amounting in the aggregate to $26,715 for office rent,
clerk hire, fuel, etc., I barely wish to remark that, so far as I
can discover in the public documents, there is no evidence, by
word or inference, either from any disinterested witness or of
General Cass himself, that he ever rented or kept a separate
office, ever hired or kept a clerk, or even used any extra amount
of fuel, etc., in consequence of his Indian services. Indeed,
General Cass’s entire silence in regard to these items, in his
two long letters urging his claims upon the government, is, to my
mind, almost conclusive that no such claims had any real

But I have introduced General Cass’s accounts here chiefly to
show the wonderful physical capacities of the man. They show
that he not only did the labor of several men at the same time,
but that he often did it at several places, many hundreds of
miles apart, at the same time. And at eating, too, his
capacities are shown to be quite as wonderful. From October,
1821, to May, 1822, he eat ten rations a day in Michigan, ten
rations a day here in Washington, and near five dollars’ worth a
day on the road between the two places! And then there is an
important discovery in his example–the art of being paid for
what one eats, instead of having to pay for it. Hereafter if any
nice young man should owe a bill which he cannot pay in any other
way, he can just board it out. Mr. Speaker, we have all heard of
the animal standing in doubt between two stacks of hay and
starving to death. The like of that would never happen to
General Cass. Place the stacks a thousand miles apart, he would
stand stock-still midway between them, and eat them both at once,
and the green grass along the line would be apt to suffer some,
too, at the same time. By all means make him President,
gentlemen. He will feed you bounteously–if–if there is any
left after he shall have helped himself.

But, as General Taylor is, par exel1ence, the hero of the Mexican
War, and as you Democrats say we Whigs have always opposed the
war, you think it must be very awkward and embarrassing for us to
go for General Taylor. The declaration that we have always
opposed the war is true or false, according as one may understand
the term “oppose the war.” If to say “the war was unnecessarily
and unconstitutionally commenced by the President” be opposing
the war, then the Whigs have very generally opposed it. Whenever
they have spoken at all, they have said this; and they have said
it on what has appeared good reason to them. The marching an
army into the midst of a peaceful Mexican settlement, frightening
the inhabitants away, leaving their growing crops and other
property to destruction, to you may appear a perfectly amiable,
peaceful, unprovoking procedure; but it does not appear so to us.
So to call such an act, to us appears no other than a naked,
impudent absurdity, and we speak of it accordingly. But if, when
the war had begun, and had become the cause of the country, the
giving of our money and our blood, in common with yours, was
support of the war, then it is not true that we have always
opposed the war. With few individual exceptions, you have
constantly had our votes here for all the necessary supplies.
And, more than this, you have had the services, the blood, and
the lives of our political brethren in every trial and on every
field. The beardless boy and the mature man, the humble and the
distinguished–you have had them. Through suffering and death,
by disease and in battle they have endured and fought and fell
with you. Clay and Webster each gave a son, never to be
returned. From the State of my own residence, besides other
worthy but less known Whig names, we sent Marshall, Morrison,
Baker, and Hardin; they all fought, and one fell, and in the fall
of that one we lost our best Whig man. Nor were the Whigs few in
number, or laggard in the day of danger. In that fearful,
bloody, breathless struggle at Buena Vista, where each man’s hard
task was to beat back five foes or die himself, of the five high
officers who perished, four were Whigs.

In speaking of this, I mean no odious comparison between the
lion-hearted Whigs and the Democrats who fought there. On other
occasions, and among the lower officers and privates on that
occasion, I doubt not the proportion was different. I wish to do
justice to all. I think of all those brave men as Americans, in
whose proud fame, as an American, I too have a share. Many of
them, Whigs and Democrats are my constituents and personal
friends; and I thank them,–more than thank them,–one and all,
for the high imperishable honor they have conferred on our common

But the distinction between the cause of the President in
beginning the war, and the cause of the country after it was
begun, is a distinction which you cannot perceive. To you the
President and the country seem to be all one. You are interested
to see no distinction between them; and I venture to suggest that
probably your interest blinds you a little. We see the
distinction, as we think, clearly enough; and our friends who
have fought in the war have no difficulty in seeing it also.
What those who have fallen would say, were they alive and here,
of course we can never know; but with those who have returned
there is no difficulty. Colonel Haskell and Major Gaines,
members here, both fought in the war, and both of them underwent
extraordinary perils and hardships; still they, like all other
Whigs here, vote, on the record, that the war was unnecessarily
and unconstitutionally commenced by the President. And even
General Taylor himself, the noblest Roman of them all, has
declared that as a citizen, and particularly as a soldier, it is
sufficient for him to know that his country is at war with a
foreign nation, to do all in his power to bring it to a speedy
and honorable termination by the most vigorous and energetic
operations, without inquiry about its justice, or anything else
connected with it.

Mr. Speaker, let our Democratic friends be comforted with the
assurance that we are content with our position, content with our
company, and content with our candidate; and that although they,
in their generous sympathy, think we ought to be miserable, we
really are not, and that they may dismiss the great anxiety they
have on our account.

Mr. Speaker, I see I have but three minutes left, and this forces
me to throw out one whole branch of my subject. A single word on
still another. The Democrats are keen enough to frequently
remind us that we have some dissensions in our ranks. Our good
friend from Baltimore immediately before me [Mr. McLane] expressed some doubt the other day as to which branch of our
party General Taylor would ultimately fall into the hands of.
That was a new idea to me. I knew we had dissenters, but I did
not know they were trying to get our candidate away from us. I
would like to say a word to our dissenters, but I have not the
time. Some such we certainly have; have you none, gentlemen
Democrats? Is it all union and harmony in your ranks? no
bickerings? no divisions? If there be doubt as to which of our
divisions will get our candidate, is there no doubt as to which
of your candidates will get your party? I have heard some things
from New York; and if they are true, one might well say of your
party there, as a drunken fellow once said when he heard the
reading of an indictment for hog-stealing. The clerk read on
till he got to and through the words, “did steal, take, and carry
away ten boars, ten sows, ten shoats, and ten pigs,” at which he
exclaimed, “Well, by golly, that is the most equally divided gang
of hogs I ever did hear of!” If there is any other gang of hogs
more equally divided than the Democrats of New York are about
this time, I have not heard of it.

SEPT. 12, 1848.

(From the Boston Advertiser.)

Mr. Kellogg then introduced to the meeting the Hon. Abram
Lincoln, Whig member of Congress from Illinois, a representative
of free soil.

Mr. Lincoln has a very tall and thin figure, with an intellectual
face, showing a searching mind, and a cool judgment. He spoke in
a clear and cool and very eloquent manner, for an hour and a
half, carrying the audience with him in his able arguments and
brilliant illustrations–only interrupted by warm and frequent
applause. He began by expressing a real feeling of modesty in
addressing an audience “this side of the mountains,” a part of
the country where, in the opinion of the people of his section,
everybody was supposed to be instructed and wise. But he had
devoted his attention to the question of the coming Presidential
election, and was not unwilling to exchange with all whom he
might the ideas to which he had arrived. He then began to show
the fallacy of some of the arguments against Gen. Taylor, making
his chief theme the fashionable statement of all those who oppose
him (“the old Locofocos as well as the new”) that he has no
principles, and that the Whig party have abandoned their
principles by adopting him as their candidate. He maintained
that Gen. Taylor occupied a high and unexceptionable Whig
ground, and took for his first instance and proof of this the
statement in the Allison letter–with regard to the bank, tariff,
rivers and harbors, etc.–that the will of the people should
produce its own results, without executive influence. The
principle that the people should do what–under the Constitution-
-as they please, is a Whig principle. All that Gen. Taylor is not
only to consent to, but appeal to the people to judge and act for
themselves. And this was no new doctrine for Whigs. It was the
“platform” on which they had fought all their battles, the
resistance of executive influence, and the principle of enabling
the people to frame the government according to their will. Gen.
Taylor consents to be the candidate, and to assist the people to
do what they think to be their duty, and think to be best in
their national affairs, but because he don’t want to tell what we
ought to do, he is accused of having no principles. The Whigs
here maintained for years that neither the influence, the duress,
or the prohibition of the executive should control the
legitimately expressed will of the people; and now that, on that
very ground, Gen. Taylor says that he should use the power given
him by the people to do, to the best of his judgment, the will of
the people, he is accused of want of principle, and of
inconsistency in position.

Mr. Lincoln proceeded to examine the absurdity of an attempt to
make a platform or creed for a national party, to all parts of
which all must consent and agree, when it was clearly the
intention and the true philosophy of our government, that in
Congress all opinions and principles should be represented, and
that when the wisdom of all had been compared and united, the
will of the majority should be carried out. On this ground he
conceived (and the audience seemed to go with him) that Gen.
Taylor held correct, sound republican principles.

Mr. Lincoln then passed to the subject of slavery in the States,
saying that the people of Illinois agreed entirely with the
people of Massachusetts on this subject, except perhaps that they
did not keep so constantly thinking about it. All agreed that
slavery was an evil, but that we were not responsible for it and
cannot affect it in States of this Union where we do not live.
But the question of the extension of slavery to new territories
of this country is a part of our responsibility and care, and is
under our control. In opposition to this Mr. L. believed that
the self-named “Free Soil” party was far behind the Whigs. Both
parties opposed the extension. As he understood it the new party
had no principle except this opposition. If their platform held
any other, it was in such a general way that it was like the pair
of pantaloons the Yankee pedlar offered for sale, “large enough
for any man, small enough for any boy.” They therefore had taken
a position calculated to break down their single important
declared object. They were working for the election of either
Gen. Cass or Gen. Taylor. The speaker then went on to show,
clearly and eloquently, the danger of extension of slavery,
likely to result from the election of Gen. Cass. To unite with
those who annexed the new territory to prevent the extension of
slavery in that territory seemed to him to be in the highest
degree absurd and ridiculous. Suppose these gentlemen succeed in
electing Mr. Van Buren, they had no specific means to prevent the
extension of slavery to New Mexico and California, and Gen.
Taylor, he confidently believed, would not encourage it, and
would not prohibit its restriction. But if Gen. Cass was
elected, he felt certain that the plans of farther extension of
territory would be encouraged, and those of the extension of
slavery would meet no check. The “Free Soil” mart in claiming
that name indirectly attempts a deception, by implying that Whigs
were not Free Soil men. Declaring that they would “do their duty
and leave the consequences to God ” merely gave an excuse for
taking a course they were not able to maintain by a fair and full
argument. To make this declaration did not show what their duty
was. If it did we should have no use for judgment, we might as
well be made without intellect; and when divine or human law does
not clearly point out what is our duty, we have no means of
finding out what it is but by using our most intelligent judgment
of the consequences. If there were divine law or human law for
voting for Martin Van Buren, or if a, fair examination of the
consequences and just reasoning would show that voting for him
would bring about the ends they pretended to wish–then he would
give up the argument. But since there was no fixed law on the
subject, and since the whole probable result of their action
would be an assistance in electing Gen. Cass, he must say that
they were behind the Whigs in their advocacy of the freedom of
the soil.

Mr. Lincoln proceeded to rally the Buffalo convention for
forbearing to say anything–after all the previous declarations
of those members who were formerly Whigs–on the subject of the
Mexican War, because the Van Burens had been known to have
supported it. He declared that of all the parties asking the
confidence of the country, this new one had less of principle
than any other.

He wondered whether it was still the opinion of these Free Soil
gentlemen, as declared in the “whereas” at Buffalo, that the Whig
and Democratic parties were both entirely dissolved and absorbed
into their own body. Had the Vermont election given them any
light? They had calculated on making as great an impression in
that State as in any part of the Union, and there their attempts
had been wholly ineffectual. Their failure was a greater success
than they would find in any other part of the Union.

Mr. Lincoln went on to say that he honestly believed that all
those who wished to keep up the character of the Union; who did
not believe in enlarging our field, but in keeping our fences
where they are and cultivating our present possessions, making it
a garden, improving the morals and education of the people,
devoting the administrations to this purpose; all real Whigs,
friends of good honest government–the race was ours. He had
opportunities of hearing from almost every part of the Union from
reliable sources and had not heard of a county in which we had
not received accessions from other parties. If the true Whigs
come forward and join these new friends, they need not have a
doubt. We had a candidate whose personal character and
principles he had already described, whom he could not eulogize
if he would. Gen. Taylor had been constantly, perseveringly,
quietly standing up, doing his duty and asking no praise or
reward for it. He was and must be just the man to whom the
interests, principles, and prosperity of the country might be
safely intrusted. He had never failed in anything he had
undertaken, although many of his duties had been considered
almost impossible.

Mr. Lincoln then went into a terse though rapid review of the
origin of the Mexican War and the connection of the
administration and General Taylor with it, from which he deduced
a strong appeal to the Whigs present to do their duty in the
support of General Taylor, and closed with the warmest
aspirations for and confidence in a deserved success.

At the close of his truly masterly and convincing speech, the
audience gave three enthusiastic cheers for Illinois, and three
more for the eloquent Whig member from the State.



WASHINGTON, Dec. 24, 1848.

MY DEAR FATHER:–Your letter of the 7th was received night before
last. I very cheerfully send you the twenty dollars, which sum
you say is necessary to save your land from sale. It is singular
that you should have forgotten a judgment against you; and it is
more singular that the plaintiff should have let you forget it so
long; particularly as I suppose you always had property enough to
satisfy a judgment of that amount. Before you pay it, it would
be well to be sure you have not paid, or at least, that you
cannot prove you have paid it.

Give my love to mother and all the connections. Affectionately
your son,




Resolved, That the Committee on the District of Columbia be
instructed to report a bill in substance as follows:

Sec.1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of
Representatives of the United States, in Congress assembled, That
no person not now within the District of Columbia, nor now owned
by any person or persons now resident within it, nor hereafter
born within it, shall ever be held in slavery within said

Sec. 2. That no person now within said District, or now owned
by any person or persons now resident within the same, or
hereafter born within it, shall ever be held in slavery without
the limits of said District:Provided, That officers of the
Government of the United States, being citizens of the
slaveholding States, coming into said District on public
business, and remaining only so long as may be reasonably
necessary for that object, may be attended into and out of said
District, and while there, by the necessary servants of
themselves and their families, without their right to hold such
servants in service being thereby impaired.

Sec. 3. That all children born of slave mothers within said
District, on or after the first day of January, in the year of
our Lord eighteen hundred and fifty, shall be free; but shall be
reasonably supported and educated by the respective owners of
their mothers, or by their heirs or representatives, and shall
owe reasonable service as apprentices to such owners, heirs, or
representatives, until they respectively arrive at the age of __
years, when they shall be entirely free; and the municipal
authorities of Washington and Georgetown, within their respective
jurisdictional limits, are hereby empowered and required to make
all suitable and necessary provision for enforcing obedience to
this section, on the part of both masters and apprentices.

Sec. 4. That all persons now within this District, lawfully
held as slaves, or now owned by any person or persons now
resident within said District, shall remain such at the will of
their respective owners, their heirs, and legal representatives:
Provided, That such owner, or his legal representative, may at
any time receive from the Treasury of the United States the full
value of his or her slave, of the class in this section
mentioned, upon which such slave shall be forthwith and forever
free: And provided further, That the President of the United
States, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of the Treasury
shall be a board for determining the value of such slaves as
their owners may desire to emancipate under this section, and
whose duty it shall be to hold a session for the purpose on the
first Monday of each calendar month, to receive all applications,
and, on satisfactory evidence in each case that the person
presented for valuation is a slave, and of the class in this
section mentioned, and is owned by the applicant, shall value
such slave at his or her full cash value, and give to the
applicant an order on the Treasury for the amount, and also to
such slave a certificate of freedom.

Sec. 5. That the municipal authorities of Washington and
Georgetown, within their respective jurisdictional limits, are
hereby empowered and required to provide active and efficient
means to arrest and deliver up to their owners all fugitive
slaves escaping into said District.

Sec. 6. That the election officers within said District of
Columbia are hereby empowered and required to open polls, at all
the usual places of holding elections, on the first Monday of
April next, and receive the vote of every free white male citizen
above the age of twenty-one years, having resided within said
District for the period of one year or more next preceding the
time of such voting for or against this act, to proceed in taking
said votes, in all respects not herein specified, as at elections
under the municipal laws, and with as little delay as possible to
transmit correct statements of the votes so cast to the President
of the United States; and it shall be the duty of the President
to canvass said votes immediately, and if a majority of them be
found to be for this act, to forthwith issue his proclamation
giving notice of the fact; and this act shall only be in full
force and effect on and after the day of such proclamation.

Sec. 7. That involuntary servitude for the punishment of crime,
whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall in no
wise be prohibited by this act.

Sec. 8. That for all the purposes of this act, the
jurisdictional limits of Washington are extended to all parts of
the District of Columbia not now included within the present
limits of Georgetown.


FEBRUARY 13, 1849.

Mr. Lincoln said he had not risen for the purpose of making a
speech, but only for the purpose of meeting some of the
objections to the bill. If he understood those objections, the
first was that if the bill were to become a law, it would be used
to lock large portions of the public lands from sale, without at
last effecting the ostensible object of the bill–the
construction of railroads in the new States; and secondly, that
Congress would be forced to the abandonment of large portions of
the public lands to the States for which they might be reserved,
without their paying for them. This he understood to be the
substance of the objections of the gentleman from Ohio to the
passage of the bill.

If he could get the attention of the House for a few minutes, he
would ask gentlemen to tell us what motive could induce any State
Legislature, or individual, or company of individuals, of the new
States, to expend money in surveying roads which they might know
they could not make.

[A voice: They are not required to make the road.)

Mr. Lincoln continued: That was not the case he was making. What
motive would tempt any set of men to go into an extensive survey
of a railroad which they did not intend to make? What good would
it do? Did men act without motive? Did business men commonly go
into an expenditure of money which could be of no account to
them? He generally found that men who have money were disposed
to hold on to it, unless they could see something to be made by
its investment. He could not see what motive of advantage to the
new States could be subserved by merely keeping the public lands
out of market, and preventing their settlement. As far as he
could see, the new States were wholly without any motive to do
such a thing. This, then, he took to be a good answer to the
first objection.

In relation to the fact assumed, that after a while, the new
States having got hold of the public lands to a certain extent,
they would turn round and compel Congress to relinquish all claim
to them, he had a word to say, by way of recurring to the history
of the past. When was the time to come (he asked) when the
States in which the public lands were situated would compose a
majority of the representation in Congress, or anything like it?
A majority of Representatives would very soon reside west of the
mountains, he admitted; but would they all come from States in
which the public lands were situated? They certainly would not;
for, as these Western States grew strong in Congress, the public
lands passed away from them, and they got on the other side of
the question; and the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Vinton] was an
example attesting that fact.

Mr. Vinton interrupted here to say that he had stood on this
question just where he was now, for five and twenty years.

Mr. Lincoln was not making an argument for the purpose of
convicting the gentleman of any impropriety at all. He was
speaking of a fact in history, of which his State was an example.
He was referring to a plain principle in the nature of things.
The State of Ohio had now grown to be a giant. She had a large
delegation on that floor; but was she now in favor of granting
lands to the new States, as she used to be? The New England
States, New York, and the Old Thirteen were all rather quiet upon
the subject; and it was seen just now that a member from one of
the new States was the first man to rise up in opposition. And
such would be with the history of this question for the future.
There never would come a time when the people residing in the
States embracing the public lands would have the entire control
of this subject; and so it was a matter of certainty that
Congress would never do more in this respect than what would be
dictated by a just liberality. The apprehension, therefore, that
the public lands were in danger of being wrested from the General
Government by the strength of the delegation in Congress from the
new States, was utterly futile. There never could be such a
thing. If we take these lands (said he) it will not be without
your consent. We can never outnumber you. The result is that
all fear of the new States turning against the right of Congress
to the public domain must be effectually quelled, as those who
are opposed to that interest must always hold a vast majority
here, and they will never surrender the whole or any part of the
public lands unless they themselves choose to do so. That was
all he desired to say.



WASHINGTON, March 9, 1849.


DEAR SIR: Co1onel R. D. Baker and myself are the only Whig
members of Congress from Illinois of the Thirtieth, and he of the
Thirty-first. We have reason to think the Whigs of that State
hold us responsible, to some extent, for the appointments which
may be made of our citizens. We do not know you personally, and
our efforts to you have so far been unavailing. I therefore hope
I am not obtrusive in saying in this way, for him and myself,
that when a citizen of Illinois is to be appointed in your
department, to an office either in or out of the State, we most
respectfully ask to be heard.

Your obedient servant,




WASHINGTON, March 10, 1849.


SIR:–There are several applicants for the office of United
States Marshal for the District of Illinois. Among the most
prominent of them are Benjamin Bond, Esq., of Carlyle, and
Thomas, Esq., of Galena. Mr. Bond I know to be personally every
way worthy of the office; and he is very numerously and most
respectably recommended. His papers I send to you; and I solicit
for his claims a full and fair consideration.

Having said this much, I add that in my individual judgment the
appointment of Mr. Thomas would be the better.

Your obedient servant,


(Indorsed on Mr. Bond’s papers.)

In this and the accompanying envelope are the recommendations of
about two hundred good citizens of all parts of Illinois, that
Benjamin Bond be appointed marshal for that district. They
include the names of nearly all our Whigs who now are, or have
ever been, members of the State Legislature, besides forty-six of
the Democratic members of the present Legislature, and many other
good citizens. I add that from personal knowledge I consider Mr.
Bond every way worthy of the office, and qualified to fill it.
Holding the individual opinion that the appointment of a
different gentleman would be better, I ask especial attention and
consideration for his claims, and for the opinions expressed in
his favor by those over whom I can claim no superiority.





DEAR SIR:–I recommend that Walter Davis be appointed receiver of
the land-office at this place, whenever there shall be a vacancy.
I cannot say that Mr. Herndon, the present incumbent, has failed
in the proper discharge of any of the duties of the office. He
is a very warm partisan, and openly and actively opposed to the
election of General Taylor. I also understand that since General
Taylor’s election he has received a reappointment from Mr. Polk,
his old commission not having expired. Whether this is true the
records of the department will show. I may add that the Whigs
here almost universally desire his removal.

I give no opinion of my own, but state the facts, and express the
hope that the department will act in this as in all other cases
on some proper general rule.

Your obedient servant,


P. S.–The land district to which this office belongs is very
nearly if not entirely within my district; so that Colonel Baker,
the other Whig representative, claims no voice in the
A. L.




DEAR SIR:–I recommend that Turner R. King, now of Pekin,
Illinois, be appointed register of the land-office at this place
whenever there shall be a vacancy.

I do not know that Mr. Barret, the present incumbent, has failed
in the proper discharge of any of his duties in the office. He
is a decided partisan, and openly and actively opposed the
election of General Taylor. I understand, too, that since the
election of General Taylor, Mr. Barret has received a
reappointment from Mr. Polk, his old commission not having
expired. Whether this be true, the records of the department
will show.

Whether he should be removed I give no opinion, but merely
express the wish that the department may act upon some proper
general rule, and that Mr. Barret’s case may not be made an
exception to it.

Your obedient servant,


P. S.-The land district to which this office belongs is very
nearly if not entirely within my district; so that Colonel Baker,
the other Whig representative, claims no voice in the
A. L.




DEAR Sir:–I recommend that Abner Y. Ellis be appointed
postmaster at this place, whenever there shall be a vacancy. J.
R. Diller, the present incumbent, I cannot say has failed in the
proper discharge of any of the duties of the office. He,
however, has been an active partisan in opposition to us.

Located at the seat of government of the State, he has been, for
part if not the whole of the time he has held the office, a
member of the Democratic State Central Committee, signing his
name to their addresses and manifestoes; and has been, as I
understand, reappointed by Mr. Polk since General Taylor’s
election. These are the facts of the case as I understand them,
and I give no opinion of mine as to whether he should or should
not be removed. My wish is that the department may adopt some
proper general rule for such cases, and that Mr. Diller may not
be made an exception to it, one way or the other.

Your obedient servant,


P. S.–This office, with its delivery, is entirely within my
district; so that Colonel Baker, the other Whig representative,
claims no voice in the appointment.L.




DEAR SIR:–I recommend that William Butler be appointed pension
agent for the Illinois agency, when the place shall be vacant.
Mr. Hurst, the present incumbent, I believe has performed the
duties very well. He is a decided partisan, and I believe
expects to be removed. Whether he shall, I submit to the
department. This office is not confined to my district, but
pertains to the whole State; so that Colonel Baker has an equal
right with myself to be heard concerning it. However, the office
is located here; and I think it is not probable that any one
would desire to remove from a distance to take it.

Your obedient servant,



SPRINGFIELD, April 25, 1849.

A tirade is still kept up against me here for recommending T. R.
King. This morning it is openly avowed that my supposed
influence at Washington shall be broken down generally, and
King’s prospects defeated in particular. Now, what I have done
in this matter I have done at the request of you and some other
friends in Tazewell; and I therefore ask you to either admit it
is wrong or come forward and sustain me. If the truth will
permit, I propose that you sustain me in the following manner:
copy the inclosed scrap in your own handwriting and get everybody
(not three or four, but three or four hundred) to sign it, and
then send it to me. Also, have six, eight or ten of our best
known Whig friends there write to me individual letters, stating
the truth in this matter as they understand it. Don’t neglect or
delay in the matter. I understand information of an indictment
having been found against him about three years ago, for gaming
or keeping a gaming house, has been sent to the department. I
shall try to take care of it at the department till your action
can be had and forwarded on.

Yours as ever,





DEAR SIR:–I regret troubling you so often in relation to the
land-offices here, but I hope you will perceive the necessity of
it, and excuse me. On the 7th of April I wrote you recommending
Turner R. King for register, and Walter Davis for receiver.
Subsequently I wrote you that, for a private reason, I had
concluded to transpose them. That private reason was the request
of an old personal friend who himself desired to be receiver, but
whom I felt it my duty to refuse a recommendation. He said if I
would transpose King and Davis he would be satisfied. I thought
it a whim, but, anxious to oblige him, I consented. Immediately
he commenced an assault upon King’s character, intending, as I
suppose, to defeat his appointment, and thereby secure another
chance for himself. This double offence of bad faith to me and
slander upon a good man is so totally outrageous that I now ask
to have King and Davis placed as I originally recommended,–that
is, King for register and Davis for receiver.

An effort is being made now to have Mr. Barret, the present
register, retained. I have already said he has done the duties
of the office well, and I now add he is a gentleman in the true
sense. Still, he submits to be the instrument of his party to
injure us. His high character enables him to do it more
effectually. Last year he presided at the convention which
nominated the Democratic candidate for Congress in this district,
and afterward ran for the State Senate himself, not desiring the
seat, but avowedly to aid and strengthen his party. He made
speech after speech with a degree of fierceness and coarseness
against General Taylor not quite consistent with his habitually
gentlemanly deportment. At least one (and I think more) of those
who are now trying to have him retained was himself an applicant
for this very office, and, failing to get my recommendation, now
takes this turn.

In writing you a third time in relation to these offices, I
stated that I supposed charges had been forwarded to you against
King, and that I would inquire into the truth of them. I now
send you herewith what I suppose will be an ample defense against
any such charges. I ask attention to all the papers, but
particularly to the letters of Mr. David Mack, and the paper with
the long list of names. There is no mistake about King’s being a
good man. After the unjust assault upon him, and considering the
just claims of Tazewell County, as indicated in the letters I
inclose you, it would in my opinion be injustice, and withal a
blunder, not to appoint him, at least as soon as any one is
appointed to either of the offices here.

Your obedient servant,



SPRINGFIELD, ILL., May 19, 1849.


Butterfield will be commissioner of the Gen’l Land Office, unless
prevented by strong and speedy efforts. Ewing is for him, and he
is only not appointed yet because Old Zach. hangs fire.

I have reliable information of this. Now, if you agree with me
that this appointment would dissatisfy rather than gratify the
Whigs of this State, that it would slacken their energies in
future contests, that his appointment in ’41 is an old sore with
them which they will not patiently have reopened,–in a word that
his appointment now would be a fatal blunder to the
administration and our political men here in Illinois, write
Crittenden to that effect. He can control the matter. Were you
to write Ewing I fear the President would never hear of your
letter. This may be mere suspicion. You might write directly to
Old Zach. You will be the best judge of the propriety of that.
Not a moment’s time is to be lost.

Let this be confidential except with Mr. Edwards and a few others
whom you know I would trust just as I do you.

Yours as ever,







DEAR SIR:–I am about to ask a favor of you, one which I hope
will not cost you much. I understand the General Land-Office is
about to be given to Illinois, and that Mr. Ewing desires Justin
Butterfield, of Chicago, to be the man. I give you my word, the
appointment of Mr. Butterfield will be an egregious political
blunder. It will give offence to the whole Whig party here, and
be worse than a dead loss to the administration of so much of its
patronage. Now, if you can conscientiously do so, I wish you to
write General Taylor at once, saying that either I or the man I
recommend should in your opinion be appointed to that office, if
any one from Illinois shall be. I restrict my request to
Illinois because you may have a man from your own State, and I do
not ask to interfere with that.

Your friend as ever,




Application for Patent:

What I claim as my invention, and desire to secure by letters
patent, is the combination of expansible buoyant chambers placed
at the sides of a vessel with the main shaft or shafts by means
of the sliding spars, which pass down through the buoyant
chambers and are made fast to their bottoms and the series of
ropes and pulleys or their equivalents in such a manner that by
turning the main shaft or shafts in one direction the buoyant
chambers will be forced downward into the water, and at the same
time expanded and filled with air for buoying up the vessel by
the displacement of water, and by turning the shafts in an
opposite direction the buoyant chambers will be contracted into a
small space and secured against injury.



SPRINGFIELD, ILL., June 3, 1849


DEAR SIR:–Vandalia, the receiver’s office at which place is the
subject of the within, is not in my district; and I have been
much perplexed to express any preference between Dr. Stapp and
Mr. Remann. If any one man is better qualified for such an
office than all others, Dr. Stapp is that man; still, I believe a
large majority of the Whigs of the district prefer Mr. Remann,
who also is a good man. Perhaps the papers on file will enable
you to judge better than I can. The writers of the within are
good men, residing within the land district.

Your obt. servant,



SPRINGFIELD, June 5, 1849.

DEAR WILLIAM:–Your two letters were received last night. I have
a great many letters to write, and so cannot write very long
ones. There must be some mistake about Walter Davis saying I
promised him the post-office. I did not so promise him. I did
tell him that if the distribution of the offices should fall into
my hands, he should have something; and if I shall be convinced
he has said any more than this, I shall be disappointed. I said
this much to him because, as I understand, he is of good
character, is one of the young men, is of the mechanics, and
always faithful and never troublesome; a Whig, and is poor, with
the support of a widow mother thrown almost exclusively on him by
the death of his brother. If these are wrong reasons, then I
have been wrong; but I have certainly not been selfish in it,
because in my greatest need of friends he was against me, and for

Yours as ever,


P. S. Let the above be confidential.



Mr. Edwards is unquestionably offended with me in connection with
the matter of the General Land-Office. He wrote a letter against
me which was filed at the department.

The better part of one’s life consists of his friendships; and,
of them, mine with Mr. Edwards was one of the most cherished. I
have not been false to it. At a word I could have had the office
any time before the department was committed to Mr. Butterfield,
at least Mr. Ewing and the President say as much. That word I
forbore to speak, partly for other reasons, but chiefly for Mr.
Edwards’ sake, losing the office (that he might gain it) I was
always for; but to lose his friendship, by the effort for him,
would oppress me very much, were I not sustained by the utmost
consciousness of rectitude. I first determined to be an
applicant, unconditionally, on the 2nd of June; and I did so then
upon being informed by a telegraphic despatch that the question
was narrowed down to Mr. B and myself, and that the Cabinet had
postponed the appointment three weeks, for my benefit. Not
doubting that Mr. Edwards was wholly out of the question I,
nevertheless, would not then have become an applicant had I
supposed he would thereby be brought to suspect me of treachery
to him. Two or three days afterwards a conversation with Levi
Davis convinced me Mr. Edwards was dissatisfied; but I was then
too far in to get out. His own letter, written on the 25th of
April, after I had fully informed him of all that had passed, up
to within a few days of that time, gave assurance I had that
entire confidence from him which I felt my uniform and strong
friendship for him entitled me to. Among other things it says,
“Whatever course your judgment may dictate as proper to be
pursued, shall never be excepted to by me.” I also had had a
letter from Washington, saying Chambers, of the Republic, had
brought a rumor then, that Mr. E had declined in my favor, which
rumor I judged came from Mr. E himself, as I had not then
breathed of his letter to any living creature. In saying I had
never, before the 2nd of June, determined to be an applicant,
unconditionally, I mean to admit that, before then, I had said
substantially I would take the office rather than it should be
lost to the State, or given to one in the State whom the Whigs
did not want; but I aver that in every instance in which I spoke
of myself, I intended to keep, and now believe I did keep, Mr. E
above myself. Mr. Edwards’ first suspicion was that I had
allowed Baker to overreach me, as his friend, in behalf of Don
Morrison. I knew this was a mistake; and the result has proved
it. I understand his view now is, that if I had gone to open war
with Baker I could have ridden him down, and had the thing all my
own way. I believe no such thing. With Baker and some strong
man from the Military tract & elsewhere for Morrison, and we and
some strong man from the Wabash & elsewhere for Mr. E, it was not
possible for either to succeed. I believed this in March, and I
know it now. The only thing which gave either any chance was the
very thing Baker & I proposed,–an adjustment with themselves.

You may wish to know how Butterfield finally beat me. I can not
tell you particulars now, but will when I see you. In the
meantime let it be understood I am not greatly dissatisfied,–I
wish the offer had been so bestowed as to encourage our friends
in future contests, and I regret exceedingly Mr. Edwards’
feelings towards me. These two things away, I should have no
regrets,–at least I think I would not.

Write me soon.

Your friend, as ever,



At a meeting to express sympathy with the cause of Hungarian
freedom, Dr. Todd, Thos. Lewis, Hon. A. Lincoln, and Wm.
Carpenter were appointed a committee to present appropriate
resolutions, which reported through Hon. A. Lincoln the

Resolved, That, in their present glorious struggle for liberty,
the Hungarians command our highest admiration and have our
warmest sympathy.

Resolved, That they have our most ardent prayers for their speedy
triumph and final success.

Resolved, That the Government of the United States should
acknowledge the independence of Hungary as a nation of freemen at
the very earliest moment consistent with our amicable relations
with the government against which they are contending.

Resolved, That, in the opinion of this meeting, the immediate
acknowledgment of the independence of Hungary by our government
is due from American freemen to their struggling brethren, to the
general cause of republican liberty, and not violative of the
just rights of any nation or people.


SPRINGFIELD, Sept. 14, 1849.

Dr. WILLIAM FITHIAN, Danville, Ill.

DEAR DOCTOR:–Your letter of the 9th was received a day or two
ago. The notes and mortgages you enclosed me were duly received.
I also got the original Blanchard mortgage from Antrim Campbell,
with whom Blanchard had left it for you. I got a decree of
foreclosure on the whole; but, owing to there being no redemption
on the sale to be under the Blanchard mortgage, the court allowed
Mobley till the first of March to pay the money, before
advertising for sale. Stuart was empowered by Mobley to appear
for him, and I had to take such decree as he would consent to, or
none at all. I cast the matter about in my mind and concluded
that as I could not get a decree we would put the accrued
interest at interest, and thereby more than match the fact of
throwing the Blanchard debt back from twelve to six per cent., it
was better to do it. This is the present state of the case.

I can well enough understand and appreciate your suggestions
about the Land-Office at Danville; but in my present condition, I
can do nothing.

Yours, as ever,


SPRINGFIELD, Dec. 15, 1849.


DEAR SIR:–On my return from Kentucky I found your letter of the
7th of November, and have delayed answering it till now for the
reason I now briefly state. From the beginning of our
acquaintance I had felt the greatest kindness for you and had
supposed it was reciprocated on your part. Last summer, under
circumstances which I mentioned to you, I was painfully
constrained to withhold a recommendation which you desired, and
shortly afterwards I learned, in such a way as to believe it,
that you were indulging in open abuse of me. Of course my
feelings were wounded. On receiving your last letter the
question occurred whether you were attempting to use me at the
same time you would injure me, or whether you might not have been
misrepresented to me. If the former, I ought not to answer you;
if the latter, I ought, and so I have remained in suspense. I
now enclose you the letter, which you may use if you see fit.

Yours, etc.,




Circuit and District Court of the U. S. in and for the State and
District of Illinois. Monday, June 3, 1850.

On the opening of the Court this morning, the Hon. A. Lincoln, a
member of the Bar of this Court, suggested the death of the Hon.
Nathaniel Pope, late a judge of this Court, since the adjournment
of the last term; whereupon, in token of respect for the memory
of the deceased, it is ordered that the Court do now adjourn
until to-morrow morning at ten o’clock.

The Hon. Stephen T. Logan, the Hon. Norman H. Purple, the Hon.
David L. Gregg, the Hon. A. Lincoln, and George W. Meeker, Esq.,
were appointed a Committee to prepare resolutions.

Whereupon, the Hon. Stephen T. Logan, in behalf of the
Committee, presented the following preamble and resolutions:

Whereas The Hon. Nathaniel Pope, District Judge of the United
States Court for the District of Illinois, having departed this
life during the last vacation of said Court, and the members of
the Bar of said Court, entertainmg the highest veneration for his
memory, a profound respect for his ability, great experience, and
learning as a judge, and cherishing for his many virtues, public
and private, his earnest simplicity of character and
unostentatious deportment, both in his public and private
relations, the most lively and affectionate recollections, have

Resolved, That, as a manifestation of their deep sense of the
loss which has been sustained in his death, they will wear the
usual badge of mourning during the residue of the term.

Resolved, That the Chairman communicate to the family of the
deceased a copy of these proceedings, with an assurance of our
sincere condolence on account of their heavy bereavement.

Resolved, That the Hon. A. Williams, District Attorney of this
Court, be requested in behalf of the meeting to present these
proceedings to the Circuit Court, and respectfully to ask that
they may be entered on the records.

E. N. POWELL, Sec’y.



JULY 1, 1850

DISCOURAGE LITIGATION. Persuade your neighbors to compromise
whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is
often a real loser-in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a
peace-maker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good
man. There will still be business enough.

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than
one who does this. Who can be more nearly a fiend than he who
habitually over-hauls the register of deeds in search of defects
in titles, whereon to stir up strife, and put money in his
pocket? A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession
which should drive such men out of it.

The matter of fees is important, far beyond the mere question of
bread and butter involved. Properly attended to, fuller justice
is done to both lawyer and client. An exorbitant fee should
never be claimed. As a general rule never take your whole fee in
advance, nor any more than a small retainer. When fully paid
beforehand, you are more than a common mortal if you can feel the
same interest in the case as if something was still in prospect
for you, as well as for your client. And when you lack interest
in the case the job will very likely lack skill and diligence in
the performance. Settle the amount of fee and take a note in
advance. Then you will feel that you are working for something,
and you are sure to do your work faithfully and well. Never sell
a fee note–at least not before the consideration service is
performed. It leads to negligence and dishonesty–negligence by
losing interest in the case, and dishonesty in refusing to refund
when you have allowed the consideration to fail.

This idea of a refund or reduction of charges from the lawyer in
a failed case is a new one to me–but not a bad one.




January 2, 1851

DEAR JOHNSTON:–Your request for eighty dollars I do not think it
best to comply with now. At the various times when I have helped
you a little you have said to me, “We can get along very well
now”; but in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty
again. Now, this can only happen by some defect in your conduct.
What that defect is, I think I know. You are not lazy, and still
you are an idler. I doubt whether, since I saw you, you have
done a good whole day’s work in any one day. You do not very
much dislike to work, and still you do not work much merely
because it does not seem to you that you could get much for it.
This habit of uselessly wasting time is the whole difficulty; it
is vastly important to you, and still more so to your children,
that you should break the habit. It is more important to them,
because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle
habit before they are in it, easier than they can get out after
they are in.

You are now in need of some money; and what I propose is, that
you shall go to work, “tooth and nail,” for somebody who will
give you money for it. Let father and your boys take charge of
your things at home, prepare for a crop, and make the crop, and
you go to work for the best money wages, or in discharge of any
debt you owe, that you can get; and, to secure you a fair reward
for your labor, I now promise you, that for every dollar you
will, between this and the first of May, get for your own labor,
either in money or as your own indebtedness, I will then give you
one other dollar. By this, if you hire yourself at ten dollars a
month, from me you will get ten more, making twenty dollars a
month for your work. In this I do not mean you shall go off to
St. Louis, or the lead mines, or the gold mines in California,
but I mean for you to go at it for the best wages you can get
close to home in Coles County. Now, if you will do this, you
will be soon out of debt, and, what is better, you will have a
habit that will keep you from getting in debt again. But, if I
should now clear you out of debt, next year you would be just as
deep in as ever. You say you would almost give your place in
heaven for seventy or eighty dollars. Then you value your place
in heaven very cheap, for I am sure you can, with the offer I
make, get the seventy or eighty dollars for four or five months’
work. You say if I will furnish you the money you will deed me
the land, and, if you don’t pay the money back, you will deliver
possession. Nonsense! If you can’t now live with the land, how
will you then live without it? You have always been kind to me,
and I do not mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, if you
will but follow my advice, you will find it worth more than
eighty times eighty dollars to you.

Affectionately your brother,



SPRINGFIELD, Jan. 11, 1851.


MY DEAR SIR:–Our case is decided against us. The decision was
announced this morning. Very sorry, but there is no help. The
history of the case since it came here is this. On Friday
morning last, Mr. Joy filed his papers, and entered his motion
for a mandamus, and urged me to take up the motion as soon as
possible. I already had the points and authority sent me by you
and by Mr. Goodrich, but had not studied them. I began preparing
as fast as possible.

The evening of the same day I was again urged to take up the
case. I refused on the ground that I was not ready, and on which
plea I also got off over Saturday. But on Monday (the 14th) I
had to go into it. We occupied the whole day, I using the large
part. I made every point and used every authority sent me by
yourself and by Mr. Goodrich; and in addition all the points I
could think of and all the authorities I could find myself. When
I closed the argument on my part, a large package was handed me,
which proved to be the plat you sent me.

The court received it of me, but it was not different from the
plat already on the record. I do not think I could ever have
argued the case better than I did. I did nothing else, but
prepare to argue and argue this case, from Friday morning till
Monday evening. Very sorry for the result; but I do not think it
could have been prevented.

Your friend, as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, January 12, 1851

DEAR BROTHER:–On the day before yesterday I received a letter
from Harriet, written at Greenup. She says she has just returned
from your house, and that father is very low and will hardly
recover. She also says you have written me two letters, and
that, although you do not expect me to come now, you wonder that
I do not write.

I received both your letters, and although I have not answered
them it is not because I have forgotten them, or been
uninterested about them, but because it appeared to me that I
could write nothing which would do any good. You already know I
desire that neither father nor mother shall be in want of any
comfort, either in health or sickness, while they live; and I
feel sure you have not failed to use my name, if necessary, to
procure a doctor, or anything else for father in his present
sickness. My business is such that I could hardly leave home
now, if it was not as it is, that my own wife is sick abed. (It
is a case of baby-sickness, and I suppose is not dangerous.) I
sincerely hope father may recover his health, but at all events,
tell him to remember to call upon and confide in our great and
good and merciful Maker, who will not turn away from him in any
extremity. He notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers the hairs
of our heads, and He will not forget the dying man who puts his
trust in Him. Say to him that if we could meet now it is
doubtful whether it would not be more painful than pleasant, but
that if it be his lot to go now, he will soon have a joyous
meeting with many loved ones gone before, and where the rest of
us, through the help of God, hope ere long to join them.

Write to me again when you receive this.




MAY 13, 1851.


Your Petitioner, Joshua Gipson, respectfully represents that on
or about the 21st day of December, 1850, a judgment was rendered
against your Petitioner for costs, by J. C. Spugg, one of the
Justices of the Peace in and for said County of Sangamon, in a
suit wherein your Petitioner was plaintiff and James L. and C.
B. Gerard were defendants; that said judgment was not the result
of negligence on the part of your Petitioner; that said judgment,
in his opinion, is unjust and erroneous in this, that the
defendants were at that time and are indebted to this Petitioner
in the full amount of the principal and interest of the note sued
on, the principal being, as affiant remembers and believes,
thirty-one dollars and eighty two cents; and that, as affiant is
informed and believes, the defendants succeeded in the trial of
said cause by proving old claims against your petitioner, in set-
off against said note, which claims had been settled, adjusted
and paid before said note was executed. Your Petitioner further
states that the reasons of his not being present at said trial,
as he was not, and of its not being in his power to take an
appeal in the ordinary way, as it was not, were that your
Petitioner then resided in Edgar County about one hundred and
twenty miles from where defendants resided; that a very short
time before the suit was commenced your Petitioner was in
Sangamon County for the purpose of collecting debts due him, and
with the rest, the note in question, which note had then been
given more than a year, that your Petitioner then saw the
defendant J. L. Gerard who is the principal in said note, and
solicited payment of the same; that said defendant then made no
pretense that he did not owe the same, but on the contrary
expressly promised that he would come into Springfield, in a very
few days and either pay the money, or give a new note, payable by
the then next Christmas; that your Petitioner accordingly left
said note with said J. C. Spugg, with directions to give
defendant full time to pay the money or give the new note as
above, and if he did neither to sue; and then affiant came home
to Edgar County, not having the slightest suspicion that if suit
should be brought, the defendants would make any defense
whatever; and your Petitioner never did in any way learn that
said suit had been commenced until more than twenty days after it
had been decided against him. He therefore prays for a writ of



SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 31, 1851

Inclosed is the deed for the land. We are all well, and have
nothing in the way of news. We have had no Cholera here for
about two weeks.

Give my love to all, and especially to Mother.

Yours as ever,



SHELBYVILLE, Nov. 4, 1851


When I came into Charleston day before yesterday I learned that
you are anxious to sell the land where you live, and move to
Missouri. I have been thinking of this ever since, and cannot
but think such a notion is utterly foolish. What can you do in
Missouri better than here? Is the land richer? Can you there,
any more than here, raise corn and wheat and oats without work?
Will anybody there, any more than here, do your work for you? If
you intend to go to work, there is no better place than right
where you are; if you do not intend to go to work you cannot get
along anywhere. Squirming and crawling about from place to place
can do no good. You have raised no crop this year, and what you
really want is to sell the land, get the money and spend it.
Part with the land you have, and, my life upon it, you will never
after own a spot big enough to bury you in. Half you will get
for the land you spend in moving to Missouri, and the other half
you will eat and drink and wear out, and no foot of land will be
bought. Now I feel it is my duty to have no hand in such a piece
of foolery. I feel that it is so even on your own account, and
particularly on Mother’s account. The eastern forty acres I
intend to keep for Mother while she lives; if you will not
cultivate it, it will rent for enough to support her; at least it
will rent for something. Her dower in the other two forties she
can let you have, and no thanks to me.

Now do not misunderstand this letter. I do not write it in any
unkindness. I write it in order, if possible, to get you to face
the truth, which truth is, you are destitute because you have
idled away all your time. Your thousand pretenses for not
getting along better are all nonsense; they deceive nobody but
yourself. Go to work is the only cure for your case.

A word for Mother: Chapman tells me he wants you to go and live
with him. If I were you I would try it awhile. If you get tired
of it (as I think you will not) you can return to your own home.
Chapman feels very kindly to you; and I have no doubt he will
make your situation very pleasant.

Sincerely yours,


Nov. 4, 1851


Chapman tells me he wants you to go and live with him. If I were
you I would try it awhile. If you get tired of it (as I think
you will not) you can return to your own home. Chapman feels
very kindly to you; and I have no doubt he will make your
situation very pleasant.

Sincerely your son,



SHELBYVILLE, November 9, 1851

DEAR BROTHER :-When I wrote you before, I had not received your
letter. I still think as I did, but if the land can be sold so
that I get three hundred dollars to put to interest for Mother, I
will not object, if she does not. But before I will make a deed,
the money must be had, or secured beyond all doubt, at ten per

As to Abram, I do not want him, on my own account; but I
understand he wants to live with me, so that he can go to school
and get a fair start in the world, which I very much wish him to
have. When I reach home, if I can make it convenient to take, I
will take him, provided there is no mistake between us as to the
object and terms of my taking him. In haste, as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, November 25, 1851.

DEAR BROTHER:–Your letter of the 22d is just received. Your
proposal about selling the east forty acres of land is all that I
want or could claim for myself; but I am not satisfied with it on
Mother’s account–I want her to have her living, and I feel that
it is my duty, to some extent, to see that she is not wronged.
She had a right of dower (that is, the use of one-third for life)
in the other two forties; but, it seems, she has already let you
take that, hook and line. She now has the use of the whole of
the east forty, as long as she lives; and if it be sold, of
course she is entitled to the interest on all the money it
brings, as long as she lives; but you propose to sell it for
three hundred dollars, take one hundred away with you, and leave
her two hundred at 8 per cent., making her the enormous sum of 16
dollars a year. Now, if you are satisfied with treating her in
that way, I am not. It is true that you are to have that forty
for two hundred dollars, at Mother’s death, but you are not to
have it before. I am confident that land can be made to produce
for Mother at least $30 a year, and I can not, to oblige any
living person, consent that she shall be put on an allowance of
sixteen dollars a year.

Yours, etc.,




On the fourth day of July, 1776, the people of a few feeble and
oppressed colonies of Great Britain, inhabiting a portion of the
Atlantic coast of North America, publicly declared their national
independence, and made their appeal to the justice of their cause
and to the God of battles for the maintenance of that
declaration. That people were few in number and without
resources, save only their wise heads and stout hearts. Within
the first year of that declared independence, and while its
maintenance was yet problematical, while the bloody struggle
between those resolute rebels and their haughty would-be masters
was still waging,–of undistinguished parents and in an obscure
district of one of those colonies Henry Clay was born. The
infant nation and the infant child began the race of life
together. For three quarters of a century they have travelled
hand in hand. They have been companions ever. The nation has
passed its perils, and it is free, prosperous, and powerful. The
child has reached his manhood, his middle age, his old age, and
is dead. In all that has concerned the nation the man ever
sympathized; and now the nation mourns the man.

The day after his death one of the public journals, opposed to
him politically, held the following pathetic and beautiful
language, which I adopt partly because such high and exclusive
eulogy, originating with a political friend, might offend good
taste, but chiefly because I could not in any language of my own
so well express my thoughts:

“Alas, who can realize that Henry Clay is dead! Who can realize
that never again that majestic form shall rise in the council-
chambers of his country to beat back the storms of anarchy which
may threaten, or pour the oil of peace upon the troubled billows
as they rage and menace around! Who can realize that the
workings of that mighty mind have ceased, that the throbbings of
that gallant heart are stilled, that the mighty sweep of that
graceful arm will be felt no more, and the magic of that eloquent
tongue, which spake as spake no other tongue besides, is hushed
hushed for ever! Who can realize that freedom’s champion, the
champion of a civilized world and of all tongues and kindreds of
people, has indeed fallen! Alas, in those dark hours of peril
and dread which our land has experienced, and which she may be
called to experience again, to whom now may her people look up
for that counsel and advice which only wisdom and experience and
patriotism can give, and which only the undoubting confidence of
a nation will receive? Perchance in the whole circle of the
great and gifted of our land there remains but one on whose
shoulders the mighty mantle of the departed statesman may fall;
one who while we now write is doubtless pouring his tears over
the bier of his brother and friend brother, friend, ever, yet in
political sentiment as far apart as party could make them. Ah,
it is at times like these that the petty distinctions of mere
party disappear. We see only the great, the grand, the noble
features of the departed statesman; and we do not even beg
permission to bow at his feet and mingle our tears with those who
have ever been his political adherents–we do [not] beg this
permission, we claim it as a right, though we feel it as a
privilege. Henry Clay belonged to his country–to the world;
mere party cannot claim men like him. His career has been
national, his fame has filled the earth, his memory will endure
to the last syllable of recorded time.

“Henry Clay is dead! He breathed his last on yesterday, at
twenty minutes after eleven, in his chamber at Washington. To
those who followed his lead in public affairs, it more
appropriately belongs to pronounce his eulogy and pay specific
honors to the memory of the illustrious dead. But all Americans
may show the grief which his death inspires, for his character
and fame are national property. As on a question of liberty he
knew no North, no South, no East, no West, but only the Union
which held them all in its sacred circle, so now his countrymen
will know no grief that is not as wide-spread as the bounds of
the confederacy. The career of Henry Clay was a public career.
>From his youth he has been devoted to the public service, at a
period, too, in the world’s history justly regarded as a
remarkable era in human affairs. He witnessed in the beginning
the throes of the French Revolution. He saw the rise and fall of
Napoleon. He was called upon to legislate for America and direct
her policy when all Europe was the battlefield of contending
dynasties, and when the struggle for supremacy imperilled the
rights of all neutral nations. His voice spoke war and peace in
the contest with Great Britain.

“When Greece rose against the Turks and struck for liberty, his
name was mingled with the battle-cry of freedom. When South
America threw off the thraldom of Spain, his speeches were read
at the head of her armies by Bolivar. His name has been, and
will continue to be, hallowed in two hemispheres, for it is

‘One of the few, the immortal names
That were not born to die!’

“To the ardent patriot and profound statesman he added a quality
possessed by few of the gifted on earth. His eloquence has not
been surpassed. In the effective power to move the heart of man,
Clay was without an equal, and the heaven-born endowment, in the
spirit of its origin, has been most conspicuously exhibited
against intestine feud. On at least three important occasions he
has quelled our civil commotions by a power and influence which
belonged to no other statesman of his age and times. And in our
last internal discord, when this Union trembled to its centre, in
old age he left the shades of private life, and gave the death-
blow to fraternal strife, with the vigor of his earlier years, in
a series of senatorial efforts which in themselves would bring
immortality by challenging comparison with the efforts of any
statesman in any age. He exorcised the demon which possessed the
body politic, and gave peace to a distracted land. Alas! the
achievement cost him his life. He sank day by day to the tomb
his pale but noble brow bound with a triple wreath, put there by
a grateful country. May his ashes rest in peace, while his
spirit goes to take its station among the great and good men who
preceded him.”

While it is customary and proper upon occasions like the present
to give a brief sketch of the life of the deceased, in the case
of Mr. Clay it is less necessary than most others; for his
biography has been written and rewritten and read and reread for
the last twenty-five years; so that, with the exception of a few
of the latest incidents of his life, all is as well known as it
can be. The short sketch which I give is, therefore, merely to
maintain the connection of this discourse.

Henry Clay was born on the twelfth day of April, 1777, in Hanover
County, Virginia. Of his father, who died in the fourth or fifth
year of Henry’s age, little seems to be known, except that he was
a respectable man and a preacher of the Baptist persuasion. Mr.
Clay’s education to the end of life was comparatively limited. I
say “to the end of life,” because I have understood that from
time to time he added something to his education during the
greater part of his whole life. Mr. Clay’s lack of a more
perfect early education, however it may be regretted generally,
teaches at least one profitable lesson: it teaches that in this
country one can scarcely be so poor but that, if he will, he can
acquire sufficient education to get through the world
respectably. In his twenty-third year Mr. Clay was licensed to
practise law, and emigrated to Lexington, Kentucky. Here he
commenced and continued the practice till the year 1803, when he
was first elected to the Kentucky Legislature. By successive
elections he was continued in the Legislature till the latter
part of 1806, when he was elected to fill a vacancy of a single
session in the United States Senate. In 18O7 he was again
elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives, and by that
body chosen Speaker. In 1808 he was re-elected to the same body.
In 1809 he was again chosen to fill a vacancy of two years in the
United States Senate. In 1811 he was elected to the United
States House of Representatives, and on the first day of taking
his seat in that body he was chosen its Speaker. In 1813 he was
again elected Speaker. Early in 1814, being the period of our
last British war, Mr. Clay was sent as commissioner, with others,
to negotiate a treaty of peace, which treaty was concluded in the
latter part of the same year. On his return from Europe he was
again elected to the lower branch of Congress, and on taking his
seat in December, 1815, was called to his old post-the Speaker’s
chair, a position in which he was retained by successive
elections, with one brief intermission, till the inauguration of
John Quincy Adams, in March, 1825. He was then appointed
Secretary of State, and occupied that important station till the
inauguration of General Jackson, in March, 1829. After this he
returned to Kentucky, resumed the practice of law, and continued
it till the autumn of 1831, when he was by the Legislature of
Kentucky again placed in the United States Senate. By a
reelection he was continued in the Senate till he resigned his
seat and retired, in March, 1848. In December, 1849, he again
took his seat in the Senate, which he again resigned only a few
months before his death.

By the foregoing it is perceived that the period from the
beginning of Mr. Clay’s official life in 1803 to the end of 1852
is but one year short of half a century, and that the sum of all
the intervals in it will not amount to ten years. But mere
duration of time in office constitutes the smallest part of Mr.
Clay’s history. Throughout that long period he has constantly
been the most loved and most implicitly followed by friends, and
the most dreaded by opponents, of all living American
politicians. In all the great questions which have agitated the
country, and particularly in those fearful crises, the Missouri
question, the nullification question, and the late slavery
question, as connected with the newly acquired territory,
involving and endangering the stability of the Union, his has
been the leading and most conspicuous part. In 1824 he was first
a candidate for the Presidency, and was defeated; and, although
he was successively defeated for the same office in 1832 and in
1844, there has never been a moment since 1824 till after 1848
when a very large portion of the American people did not cling to
him with an enthusiastic hope and purpose of still elevating him
to the Presidency. With other men, to be defeated was to be
forgotten; but with him defeat was but a trifling incident,
neither changing him nor the world’s estimate of him. Even those
of both political parties who have been preferred to him for the
highest office have run far briefer courses than he, and left him
still shining high in the heavens of the political world.
Jackson, Van Buren, Harnson, Polk, and Taylor all rose after, and
set long before him. The spell–the long-enduring spell–with
which the souls of men were bound to him is a miracle. Who can
compass it? It is probably true he owed his pre-eminence to no
one quality, but to a fortunate combination of several. He was
surpassingly eloquent; but many eloquent men fail utterly, and
they are not, as a class, generally successful. His judgment was
excellent; but many men of good judgment live and die unnoticed.
His will was indomitable; but this quality often secures to its
owner nothing better than a character for useless obstinacy.
These, then, were Mr. Clay’s leading qualities. No one of them
is very uncommon; but all together are rarely combined in a
single individual, and this is probably the reason why such men
as Henry Clay are so rare in the world.

Mr. Clay’s eloquence did not consist, as many fine specimens of
eloquence do, of types and figures, of antithesis and elegant
arrangement of words and sentences, but rather of that deeply
earnest and impassioned tone and manner which can proceed only
from great sincerity, and a thorough conviction in the speaker of
the justice and importance of his cause. This it is that truly
touches the chords of sympathy; and those who heard Mr. Clay
never failed to be moved by it, or ever afterward forgot the
impression. All his efforts were made for practical effect. He
never spoke merely to be heard. He never delivered a Fourth of
July oration, or a eulogy on an occasion like this. As a
politician or statesman, no one was so habitually careful to
avoid all sectional ground. Whatever he did he did for the whole
country. In the construction of his measures, he ever carefully
surveyed every part of the field, and duly weighed every
conflicting interest. Feeling as he did, and as the truth surely
is, that the world’s best hope depended on the continued union of
these States, he was ever jealous of and watchful for whatever
might have the slightest tendency to separate them.

Mr. Clay’s predominant sentiment, from first to last, was a deep
devotion to the cause of human liberty–a strong sympathy with
the oppressed everywhere, and an ardent wish for their elevation.
With him this was a primary and all-controlling passion.
Subsidiary to this was the conduct of his whole life. He loved
his country partly because it was his own country, and mostly
because it was a free country; and he burned with a zeal for its
advancement, prosperity, and glory, because he saw in such the
advancement, prosperity, and glory of human liberty, human right,
and human nature. He desired the prosperity of his countrymen,
partly because they were his countrymen, but chiefly to show to
the world that free men could be prosperous.

That his views and measures were always the wisest needs not to
be affirmed; nor should it be on this occasion, where so many
thinking differently join in doing honor to his memory. A free
people in times of peace and quiet when pressed by no common
danger-naturally divide into parties. At such times the man who
is of neither party is not, cannot be, of any consequence. Mr.
Clay therefore was of a party. Taking a prominent part, as he
did, in all the great political questions of his country for the
last half century, the wisdom of his course on many is doubted
and denied by a large portion of his countrymen; and of such it
is not now proper to speak particularly. But there are many
others, about his course upon which there is little or no
disagreement amongst intelligent and patriotic Americans. Of
these last are the War of 1812, the Missouri question,
nullification, and the now recent compromise measures. In 1812
Mr. Clay, though not unknown, was still a young man. Whether we
should go to war with Great Britain being the question of the
day, a minority opposed the declaration of war by Congress, while
the majority, though apparently inclined to war, had for years
wavered, and hesitated to act decisively. Meanwhile British
aggressions multiplied, and grew more daring and aggravated. By
Mr. Clay more than any other man the struggle was brought to a
decision in Congress. The question, being now fully before
Congress, came up in a variety of ways in rapid succession, on
most of which occasions Mr. Clay spoke. Adding to all the logic
of which the subject was susceptible that noble inspiration which
came to him as it came to no other, he aroused and nerved and
inspired his friends, and confounded and bore down all
opposition. Several of his speeches on these occasions were
reported and are still extant, but the best of them all never
was. During its delivery the reporters forgot their vocation,
dropped their pens, and sat enchanted from near the beginning to
quite the close. The speech now lives only in the memory of a
few old men, and the enthusiasm with which they cherish their
recollection of it is absolutely astonishing. The precise
language of this speech we shall never know; but we do know we
cannot help knowing–that with deep pathos it pleaded the cause
of the injured sailor, that it invoked the genius of the
Revolution, that it apostrophized the names of Otis, of Henry,
and of Washington, that it appealed to the interests, the pride,
the honor, and the glory of the nation, that it shamed and
taunted the timidity of friends, that it scorned and scouted and
withered the temerity of domestic foes, that it bearded and
defied the British lion, and, rising and swelling and maddening
in its course, it sounded the onset, till the charge, the shock,
the steady struggle, and the glorious victory all passed in vivid
review before the entranced hearers.

Important and exciting as was the war question of 1812, it never
so alarmed the sagacious statesmen of the country for the safety
of the Republic as afterward did the Missouri question. This
sprang from that unfortunate source of discord–negro slavery.
When our Federal Constitution was adopted, we owned no territory
beyond the limits or ownership of the States, except the
territory northwest of the River Ohio and east of the
Mississippi. What has since been formed into the States of
Maine, Kentucky and Tennessee, was, I believe, within the limits
of or owned by Massachusetts, Virginia, and North Carolina. As
to the Northwestern Territory, provision had been made even
before the adoption of the Constitution that slavery should never
go there. On the admission of States into the Union, carved from
the territory we owned before the Constitution, no question, or
at most no considerable question, arose about slavery–those
which were within the limits of or owned by the old States
following respectively the condition of the parent State, and
those within the Northwest Territory following the previously
made provision. But in 1803 we purchased Louisiana of the
French, and it included with much more what has since been formed
into the State of Missouri. With regard to it, nothing had been
done to forestall the question of slavery. When, therefore, in
1819, Missouri, having formed a State constitution without
excluding slavery, and with slavery already actually existing
within its limits, knocked at the door of the Union for
admission, almost the entire representation of the non-
slaveholding States objected. A fearful and angry struggle
instantly followed. This alarmed thinking men more than any
previous question, because, unlike all the former, it divided the
country by geographical lines. Other questions had their
opposing partisans in all localities of the country and in almost
every family, so that no division of the Union could follow such
without a separation of friends to quite as great an extent as
that of opponents. Not so with the Missouri question. On this a
geographical line could be traced, which in the main would
separate opponents only. This was the danger. Mr. Jefferson,
then in retirement, wrote:

“I had for a long time ceased to read newspapers or to pay any
attention to public affairs, confident they were in good hands
and content to be a passenger in our bark to the shore from which
I am not distant. But this momentous question, like a firebell
in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered
it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed, indeed, for
the moment. But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence.
A geographical line coinciding with a marked principle, moral and
political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of
men, will never be obliterated, and every irritation will mark it
deeper and deeper. I can say with conscious truth that there is
not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to
relieve us from this heavy reproach in any practicable way.

“The cession of that kind of property–for it is so misnamed–is
a bagatelle which would not cost me a second thought if in that
way a general emancipation and expatriation could be effected,
and gradually and with due sacrifices I think it might be. But
as it is, we have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold
him nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-
preservation in the other.”

Mr. Clay was in Congress, and, perceiving the danger, at once
engaged his whole energies to avert it. It began, as I have
said, in 1819 ; and it did not terminate till 1821. Missouri
would not yield the point; and Congress that is, a majority in
Congress–by repeated votes showed a determination not to admit
the State unless it should yield. After several failures, and
great labor on the part of Mr. Clay to so present the question
that a majority could consent to the admission, it was by a vote
rejected, and, as all seemed to think, finally. A sullen gloom
hung over the nation. All felt that the rejection of Missouri
was equivalent to a dissolution of the Union, because those
States which already had what Missouri was rejected for refusing
to relinquish would go with Missouri. All deprecated and
deplored this, but none saw how to avert it. For the judgment of
members to be convinced of the necessity of yielding was not the
whole difficulty; each had a constituency to meet and to answer
to. Mr. Clay, though worn down and exhausted, was appealed to by
members to renew his efforts at compromise. He did so, and by
some judicious modifications of his plan, coupled with laborious
efforts with individual members and his own overmastering
eloquence upon that floor, he finally secured the admission of
the State. Brightly and captivating as it had previously shown,
it was now perceived that his great eloquence was a mere
embellishment, or at most but a helping hand to his inventive
genius and his devotion to his country in the day of her extreme

After the settlement of the Missouri question, although a portion
of the American people have differed with Mr. Clay, and a
majority even appear generally to have been opposed to him on
questions of ordinary administration, he seems constantly to have
been regarded by all as the man for the crisis. Accordingly, in
the days of nullification, and more recently in the reappearance
of the slavery question connected with our territory newly
acquired of Mexico, the task of devising a mode of adjustment
seems to have been cast upon Mr. Clay by common consent–and his
performance of the task in each case was little else than a
literal fulfilment of the public expectation.

Mr. Clay’s efforts in behalf of the South Americans, and
afterward in behalf of the Greeks, in the times of their
respective struggles for civil liberty, are among the finest on
record, upon the noblest of all themes, and bear ample
corroboration of what I have said was his ruling passion–a love
of liberty and right, unselfishly, and for their own sakes.

Having been led to allude to domestic slavery so frequently
already, I am unwilling to close without referring more
particularly to Mr. Clay’s views and conduct in regard to it. He
ever was on principle and in feeling opposed to slavery. The
very earliest, and one of the latest, public efforts of his life,
separated by a period of more than fifty years, were both made in
favor of gradual emancipation. He did not perceive that on a
question of human right the negroes were to be excepted from the
human race. And yet Mr. Clay was the owner of slaves. Cast into
life when slavery was already widely spread and deeply seated, he
did not perceive, as I think no wise man has perceived, how it
could be at once eradicated without producing a greater evil even
to the cause of human liberty itself. His feeling and his
judgment, therefore, ever led him to oppose both extremes of
opinion on the subject. Those who would shiver into fragments
the Union of these States, tear to tatters its now venerated
Constitution, and even burn the last copy of the Bible, rather
than slavery should continue a single hour, together with all
their more halting sympathizers, have received, and are
receiving, their just execration; and the name and opinions and
influence of Mr. Clay are fully and, as I trust, effectually and
enduringly arrayed against them. But I would also, if I could,
array his name, opinions, and influence against the opposite
extreme–against a few but an increasing number of men who, for
the sake of perpetuating slavery, are beginning to assail and to
ridicule the white man’s charter of freedom, the declaration that
“all men are created free and equal.” So far as I have learned,
the first American of any note to do or attempt this was the late
John C. Calhoun; and if I mistake not, it soon after found its
way into some of the messages of the Governor of South Carolina.
We, however, look for and are not much shocked by political
eccentricities and heresies in South Carolina. But only last
year I saw with astonishment what purported to be a letter of a
very distinguished and influential clergyman of Virginia, copied,
with apparent approbation, into a St. Louis newspaper,
containing the following to me very unsatisfactory language:

“I am fully aware that there is a text in some Bibles that is not
in mine. Professional abolitionists have made more use of it
than of any passage in the Bible. It came, however, as I trace
it, from Saint Voltaire, and was baptized by Thomas Jefferson,
and since almost universally regarded as canonical authority`All
men are born free and equal.’

“This is a genuine coin in the political currency of our
generation. I am sorry to say that I have never seen two men of
whom it is true. But I must admit I never saw the Siamese Twins,
and therefore will not dogmatically say that no man ever saw a
proof of this sage aphorism.”

This sounds strangely in republican America. The like was not
heard in the fresher days of the republic. Let us contrast with
it the language of that truly national man whose life and death
we now commemorate and lament: I quote from a speech of Mr. Clay
delivered before the American Colonization Society in 1827:

” We are reproached with doing mischief by the agitation of this
question. The society goes into no household to disturb its
domestic tranquillity. It addresses itself to no slaves to
weaken their obligations of obedience. It seeks to affect no
man’s property. It neither has the power nor the will to affect
the property of any one contrary to his consent. The execution
of its scheme would augment instead of diminishing the value of
property left behind. The society, composed of free men,
conceals itself only with the free. Collateral consequences we
are not responsible for. It is not this society which has
produced the great moral revolution which the age exhibits. What
would they who thus reproach us have done? If they would
repress all tendencies toward liberty and ultimate emancipation,
they must do more than put down the benevolent efforts of this
society. They must go back to the era of our liberty and
independence, and muzzle the cannon which thunders its annual
joyous return. They must renew the slave trade, with all its
train of atrocities. They must suppress the workings of British
philanthropy, seeking to meliorate the condition of the
unfortunate West Indian slave. They must arrest the career of
South American deliverance from thraldom. They must blow out the
moral lights around us and extinguish that greatest torch of all
which America presents to a benighted world–pointing the way to
their rights, their liberties, and their happiness. And when
they have achieved all those purposes their work will be yet
incomplete. They must penetrate the human soul, and eradicate
the light of reason and the love of liberty. Then, and not till
then, when universal darkness and despair prevail, can you
perpetuate slavery and repress all sympathy and all humane and
benevolent efforts among free men in behalf of the unhappy
portion of our race doomed to bondage.”

The American Colonization Society was organized in 1816. Mr.
Clay, though not its projector, was one of its earliest members;
and he died, as for many preceding years he had been, its
president. It was one of the most cherished objects of his
direct care and consideration, and the association of his name
with it has probably been its very greatest collateral support.
He considered it no demerit in the society that it tended to
relieve the slave-holders from the troublesome presence of the
free negroes; but this was far from being its whole merit in his
estimation. In the same speech from which we have quoted he

” There is a moral fitness in the idea of returning to Africa her
children, whose ancestors have been torn from her by the ruthless
hand of fraud and violence. Transplanted in a foreign land, they
will carry back to their native soil the rich fruits of religion,
civilization, law, and liberty. May it not be one of the great
designs of the Ruler of the universe, whose ways are often
inscrutable by short-sighted mortals, thus to transform an
original crime into a signal blessing to that most unfortunate
portion of the globe?”

This suggestion of the possible ultimate redemption of the
African race and African continent was made twenty-five years
ago. Every succeeding year has added strength to the hope of its
realization. May it indeed be realized. Pharaoh’s country was
cursed with plagues, and his hosts were lost in the Red Sea, for
striving to retain a captive people who had already served them
more than four hundred years. May like disasters never befall
us! If, as the friends of colonization hope, the present and
coming generations of our countrymen shall by any means succeed
in freeing our land from the dangerous presence of slavery, and
at the same time in restoring a captive people to their long-lost
fatherland with bright prospects for the future, and this too so
gradually that neither races nor individuals shall have suffered
by the change, it will indeed be a glorious consummation. And if
to such a consummation the efforts of Mr. Clay shall have
contributed, it will be what he most ardently wished, and none of
his labors will have been more valuable to his country and his

But Henry Clay is dead. His long and eventful life is closed.
Our country is prosperous and powerful; but could it have been
quite all it has been, and is, and is to be, without Henry Clay?
Such a man the times have demanded, and such in the providence of
God was given us. But he is gone. Let us strive to deserve, as
far as mortals may, the continued care of Divine Providence,
trusting that in future national emergencies He will not fail to
provide us the instruments of safety and security.

NOTE. We are indebted for a copy of this speech to the courtesy
of Major Wm. H. Bailhache, formerly one of the proprietors of
the Illinois State Journal.



SPRINGFIELD, November 1, 1852

A leading article in the Daily Register of this morning has
induced some of our friends to request our opinion on the
election laws as applicable to challenged voters. We have
examined the present constitution of the State, the election law
of 1849, and the unrepealed parts of the election law in the
revised code of 1845; and we are of the opinion that any person
taking the oath prescribed in the act of 1849 is entitled to vote
unless counter-proof be made satisfactory to a majority of the
judges that such oath is untrue; and that for the purpose of
obtaining such counter-proof, the proposed voter may be asked
questions in the way of cross-examination, and other independent
testimony may be received. We base our opinion as to receiving
counter-proof upon the unrepealed Section nineteen of the
election law in the revised code.





PEKIN, MAY 12, 1853


SIR:–I hope the subject-matter of this letter will appear a
sufficient apology to you for the liberty I, a total stranger,
take in addressing you. The persons here holding two lots under
a conveyance made by you, as the attorney of Daniel M. Baily,
now nearly twenty-two years ago, are in great danger of losing
the lots, and very much, perhaps all, is to depend on the
testimony you give as to whether you did or did not account to
Baily for the proceeds received by you on this sale of the lots.
I, therefore, as one of the counsel, beg of you to fully refresh
your recollection by any means in your power before the time you
may be called on to testify. If persons should come about you,
and show a disposition to pump you on the subject, it may be no
more than prudent to remember that it may be possible they design
to misrepresent you and embarrass the real testimony you may
ultimately give. It may be six months or a year before you are
called on to testify.





SPRINGFIELD, June 22, 1854.


DEAR SIR:–You, no doubt, remember the enclosed memorandum being
handed me in your office. I have just made the desired search,
and find that no such deed has ever been here. Campbell, the
auditor, says that if it were here, it would be in his office,
and that he has hunted for it a dozen times, and could never find
it. He says that one time and another, he has heard much about
the matter, that it was not a deed for Right of Way, but a deed,
outright, for Depot-ground–at least, a sale for Depot-ground,
and there may never have been a deed. He says, if there is a
deed, it is most probable General Alexander, of Paris, has it.

Yours truly,





SPRINGFIELD, Sept. 7, 1854.


DEAR SIR:–You know how anxious I am that this Nebraska measure
shall be rebuked and condemned everywhere. Of course I hope
something from your position; yet I do not expect you to do
anything which may be wrong in your own judgment; nor would I
have you do anything personally injurious to yourself. You are,
and always have been, honestly and sincerely a Democrat; and I
know how painful it must be to an honest, sincere man to be urged
by his party to the support of a measure which in his conscience
he believes to be wrong. You have had a severe struggle with
yourself, and you have determined not to swallow the wrong. Is
it not just to yourself that you should, in a few public
speeches, state your reasons, and thus justify yourself? I wish
you would; and yet I say, don’t do it, if you think it will
injure you. You may have given your word to vote for Major
Harris; and if so, of course you will stick to it. But allow me
to suggest that you should avoid speaking of this; for it
probably would induce some of your friends in like manner to cast
their votes. You understand. And now let me beg your pardon for
obtruding this letter upon you, to whom I have ever been opposed
in politics. Had your party omitted to make Nebraska a test of
party fidelity, you probably would have been the Democratic
candidate for Congress in the district. You deserved it, and I
believe it would have been given you. In that case I should have
been quite happy that Nebraska was to be rebuked at all events.
I still should have voted for the Whig candidate; but I should
have made no speeches, written no letters; and you would have
been elected by at least a thousand majority.

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, September 7, 1854


SIR:–Stranger though I am, personally, being a brother in the
faith, I venture to write you. Yates can not come to your court
next week. He is obliged to be at Pike court where he has a
case, with a fee of five hundred dollars, two hundred dollars
already paid. To neglect it would be unjust to himself, and
dishonest to his client. Harris will be with you, head up and
tail up, for Nebraska. You must have some one to make an anti-
Nebraska speech. Palmer is the best, if you can get him, I
think. Jo. Gillespie, if you can not get Palmer, and somebody
anyhow, if you can get neither. But press Palmer hard. It is in
his Senatorial district, I believe.

Yours etc.,




OCTOBER 16, 1854.

I do not rise to speak now, if I can stipulate with the audience
to meet me here at half-past six or at seven o’clock. It is now
several minutes past five, and Judge Douglas has spoken over
three hours. If you hear me at all, I wish you to hear me
through. It will take me as long as it has taken him. That will
carry us beyond eight o’clock at night. Now, every one of you
who can remain that long can just as well get his supper, meet me
at seven, and remain an hour or two later. The Judge has already
informed you that he is to have an hour to reply to me. I doubt
not but you have been a little surprised to learn that I have
consented to give one of his high reputation and known ability
this advantage of me. Indeed, my consenting to it, though
reluctant, was not wholly unselfish, for I suspected, if it were
understood that the Judge was entirely done, you Democrats would
leave and not hear me; but by giving him the close, I felt
confident you would stay for the fun of hearing him skin me.

The audience signified their assent to the arrangement, and
adjourned to seven o’clock P.M., at which time they reassembled,
and Mr. Lincoln spoke substantially as follows:

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and the propriety of its
restoration, constitute the subject of what I am about to say.
As I desire to present my own connected view of this subject, my
remarks will not be specifically an answer to Judge Douglas; yet,
as I proceed, the main points he has presented will arise, and
will receive such respectful attention as I may be able to give
them. I wish further to say that I do not propose to question
the patriotism or to assail the motives of any man or class of
men, but rather to confine myself strictly to the naked merits of
the question. I also wish to be no less than national in all the
positions I may take, and whenever I take ground which others
have thought, or may think, narrow, sectional, and dangerous to
the Union, I hope to give a reason which will appear sufficient,
at least to some, why I think differently.

And as this subject is no other than part and parcel of the
larger general question of domestic slavery, I wish to make and
to keep the distinction between the existing institution and the
extension of it so broad and so clear that no honest man can
misunderstand me, and no dishonest one successfully misrepresent

In order to a clear understanding of what the Missouri Compromise
is, a short history of the preceding kindred subjects will
perhaps be proper.

When we established our independence, we did not own or claim the
country to which this compromise applies. Indeed, strictly
speaking, the Confederacy then owned no country at all; the
States respectively owned the country within their limits, and
some of them owned territory beyond their strict State limits.
Virginia thus owned the Northwestern Territory–the country out
of which the principal part of Ohio, all Indiana, all Illinois,
all Michigan, and all Wisconsin have since been formed. She also
owned (perhaps within her then limits) what has since been formed
into the State of Kentucky. North Carolina thus owned what is
now the State of Tennessee; and South Carolina and Georgia owned,
in separate parts, what are now Mississippi and Alabama.
Connecticut, I think, owned the little remaining part of Ohio,
being the same where they now send Giddings to Congress and beat
all creation in making cheese.

These territories, together with the States themselves,
constitute all the country over which the Confederacy then
claimed any sort of jurisdiction. We were then living under the
Articles of Confederation, which were superseded by the
Constitution several years afterward. The question of ceding the
territories to the General Government was set on foot. Mr.
Jefferson,–the author of the Declaration of Independence, and
otherwise a chief actor in the Revolution; then a delegate in
Congress; afterward, twice President; who was, is, and perhaps
will continue to be, the most distinguished politician of our
history; a Virginian by birth and continued residence, and withal
a slaveholder,–conceived the idea of taking that occasion to
prevent slavery ever going into the Northwestern Territory. He
prevailed on the Virginia Legislature to adopt his views, and to
cede the Territory, making the prohibition of slavery therein a
condition of the deed. (Jefferson got only an understanding, not
a condition of the deed to this wish.) Congress accepted the
cession with the condition; and the first ordinance (which the
acts of Congress were then called) for the government of the
Territory provided that slavery should never be permitted
therein. This is the famed “Ordinance of ’87,” so often spoken

Thenceforward for sixty-one years, and until, in 1848, the last
scrap of this Territory came into the Union as the State of
Wisconsin, all parties acted in quiet obedience to this
ordinance. It is now what Jefferson foresaw and intended–the
happy home of teeming millions of free, white, prosperous people,
and no slave among them.

Thus, with the author of the Declaration of Independence, the
policy of prohibiting slavery in new territory originated. Thus,
away back to the Constitution, in the pure, fresh, free breath of
the Revolution, the State of Virginia and the national Congress
put that policy into practice. Thus, through more than sixty of
the best years of the republic, did that policy steadily work to
its great and beneficent end. And thus, in those five States,
and in five millions of free, enterprising people, we have before
us the rich fruits of this policy.

But now new light breaks upon us. Now Congress declares this
ought never to have been, and the like of it must never be again.
The sacred right of self-government is grossly violated by it.
We even find some men who drew their first breath–and every
other breath of their lives–under this very restriction, now
live in dread of absolute suffocation if they should be
restricted in the “sacred right” of taking slaves to Nebraska.
That perfect liberty they sigh for–the liberty of making slaves
of other people, Jefferson never thought of, their own fathers
never thought of, they never thought of themselves, a year ago.
How fortunate for them they did not sooner become sensible of
their great misery! Oh, how difficult it is to treat with respect
such assaults upon all we have ever really held sacred!

But to return to history. In 1803 we purchased what was then
called Louisiana, of France. It included the present States of
Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Iowa; also the Territory of
Minnesota, and the present bone of contention, Kansas and
Nebraska. Slavery already existed among the French at New
Orleans, and to some extent at St. Louis. In 1812 Louisiana
came into the Union as a slave State, without controversy. In
1818 or ’19, Missouri showed signs of a wish to come in with
slavery. This was resisted by Northern members of Congress; and
thus began the first great slavery agitation in the nation. This
controversy lasted several months, and became very angry and
exciting–the House of Representatives voting steadily for the
prohibition of slavery in Missouri, and the Senate voting as
steadily against it. Threats of the breaking up of the Union
were freely made, and the ablest public men of the day became
seriously alarmed. At length a compromise was made, in which, as
in all compromises, both sides yielded something. It was a law,
passed on the 6th of March, 1820, providing that Missouri might
come into the Union with slavery, but that in all the remaining
part of the territory purchased of France which lies north of
thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north latitude, slavery
should never be permitted. This provision of law is the
“Missouri Compromise.” In excluding slavery north of the line,
the same language is employed as in the Ordinance of 1787. It
directly applied to Iowa, Minnesota, and to the present bone of
contention, Kansas and Nebraska. Whether there should or should
not be slavery south of that line, nothing was said in the law.
But Arkansas constituted the principal remaining part south of
the line; and it has since been admitted as a slave State,
without serious controversy. More recently, Iowa, north of the
line, came in as a free State without controversy. Still later,
Minnesota, north of the line, had a territorial organization
without controversy. Texas, principally south of the line, and
west of Arkansas, though originally within the purchase from
France, had, in 1819, been traded off to Spain in our treaty for
the acquisition of Florida. It had thus become a part of Mexico.
Mexico revolutionized and became independent of Spain. American
citizens began settling rapidly with their slaves in the southern
part of Texas. Soon they revolutionized against Mexico, and
established an independent government of their own, adopting a
constitution with slavery, strongly resembling the constitutions
of our slave States. By still another rapid move, Texas,
claiming a boundary much farther west than when we parted with
her in 1819, was brought back to the United States, and admitted
into the Union as a slave State. Then there was little or no
settlement in the northern part of Texas, a considerable portion
of which lay north of the Missouri line; and in the resolutions
admitting her into the Union, the Missouri restriction was
expressly extended westward across her territory. This was in
1845, only nine years ago.

Thus originated the Missouri Compromise; and thus has it been
respected down to 1845. And even four years later, in 1849, our
distinguished Senator, in a public address, held the following
language in relation to it:

“The Missouri Compromise has been in practical operation for
about a quarter of a century, and has received the sanction and
approbation of men of all parties in every section of the Union.
It has allayed all sectional jealousies and irritations growing
out of this vexed question, and harmonized and tranquillized the
whole country. It has given to Henry Clay, as its prominent
champion, the proud sobriquet of the “Great Pacificator,” and by
that title, and for that service, his political friends had
repeatedly appealed to the people to rally under his standard as
a Presidential candidate, as the man who had exhibited the
patriotism and power to suppress an unholy and treasonable
agitation, and preserve the Union. He was not aware that any man
or any party, from any section of the Union, had ever urged as an
objection to Mr. Clay that he was the great champion of the
Missouri Compromise. On the contrary, the effort was made by the
opponents of Mr. Clay to prove that he was not entitled to the
exclusive merit of that great patriotic measure, and that the
honor was equally due to others, as well as to him, for securing
its adoption; that it had its origin in the hearts of all
patriotic men, who desired to preserve and perpetuate the
blessings of our glorious Union–an origin akin to that of the
Constitution of the United States, conceived in the same spirit
of fraternal affection, and calculated to remove forever the only
danger which seemed to threaten, at some distant day, to sever
the social bond of union. All the evidences of public opinion at
that day seemed to indicate that this compromise had been
canonized in the hearts of the American people, as a sacred thing
which no ruthless hand would ever be reckless enough to disturb.”

I do not read this extract to involve Judge Douglas in an
inconsistency. If he afterward thought he had been wrong, it was
right for him to change. I bring this forward merely to show the
high estimate placed on the Missouri Compromise by all parties up
to so late as the year 1849.

But going back a little in point of time. Our war with Mexico
broke out in 1846. When Congress was about adjourning that
session, President Polk asked them to place two millions of
dollars under his control, to be used by him in the recess, if
found practicable and expedient, in negotiating a treaty of peace
with Mexico, and acquiring some part of her territory. A bill
was duly gotten up for the purpose, and was progressing
swimmingly in the House of Representatives, when a member by the
name of David Wilmot, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, moved as an
amendment, “Provided, that in any territory thus acquired there
never shall be slavery.”

This is the origin of the far-famed Wilmot Proviso. It created a
great flutter; but it stuck like wax, was voted into the bill,
and the bill passed with it through the House. The Senate,
however, adjourned without final action on it, and so both
appropriation and proviso were lost for the time. The war
continued, and at the next session the President renewed his
request for the appropriation, enlarging the amount, I think, to
three millions. Again came the proviso, and defeated the
measure. Congress adjourned again, and the war went on. In
December, 1847, the new Congress assembled. I was in the lower
House that term. The Wilmot Proviso, or the principle of it, was
constantly coming up in some shape or other, and I think I may
venture to say I voted for it at least forty times during the
short time I was there. The Senate, however, held it in check,
and it never became a law. In the spring of 1848 a treaty of
peace was made with Mexico, by which we obtained that portion of
her country which now constitutes the Territories of New Mexico
and Utah and the present State of California. By this treaty the
Wilmot Proviso was defeated, in so far as it was intended to be a
condition of the acquisition of territory. Its friends, however,
were still determined to find some way to restrain slavery from
getting into the new country. This new acquisition lay directly
west of our old purchase from France, and extended west to the
Pacific Ocean, and was so situated that if the Missouri line
should be extended straight west, the new country would be
divided by such extended line, leaving some north and some south
of it. On Judge Douglas’s motion, a bill, or provision of a
bill, passed the Senate to so extend the Missouri line. The
proviso men in the House, including myself, voted it down,
because, by implication, it gave up the southern part to slavery,
while we were bent on having it all free.

In the fall of 1848 the gold-mines were discovered in California.
This attracted people to it with unprecedented rapidity, so that
on, or soon after, the meeting of the new Congress in December,
1849, she already had a population of nearly a hundred thousand,
had called a convention, formed a State constitution excluding
slavery, and was knocking for admission into the Union. The
proviso men, of course, were for letting her in, but the Senate,
always true to the other side, would not consent to her
admission, and there California stood, kept out of the Union
because she would not let slavery into her borders. Under all
the circumstances, perhaps, this was not wrong. There were other
points of dispute connected with the general question of Slavery,
which equally needed adjustment. The South clamored for a more
efficient fugitive slave law. The North clamored for the
abolition of a peculiar species of slave trade in the District of
Columbia, in connection with which, in view from the windows of
the Capitol, a sort of negro livery-stable, where droves of
negroes were collected, temporarily kept, and finally taken to
Southern markets, precisely like droves of horses, had been
openly maintained for fifty years. Utah and New Mexico needed
territorial governments; and whether slavery should or should not
be prohibited within them was another question. The indefinite
western boundary of Texas was to be settled. She was a slave
State, and consequently the farther west the slavery men could
push her boundary, the more slave country they secured; and the
farther east the slavery opponents could thrust the boundary
back, the less slave ground was secured. Thus this was just as
clearly a slavery question as any of the others.

These points all needed adjustment, and they were held up,
perhaps wisely, to make them help adjust one another. The Union
now, as in 1820, was thought to be in danger, and devotion to the
Union rightfully inclined men to yield somewhat in points where
nothing else could have so inclined them. A compromise was
finally effected. The South got their new fugitive slave law,
and the North got California, (by far the best part of our
acquisition from Mexico) as a free State. The South got a
provision that New Mexico and Utah, when admitted as States, may
come in with or without slavery as they may then choose; and the
North got the slave trade abolished in the District of Columbia..
The North got the western boundary of Texas thrown farther back
eastward than the South desired; but, in turn, they gave Texas
ten millions of dollars with which to pay her old debts. This is
the Compromise of 1850.

Preceding the Presidential election of 1852, each of the great
political parties, Democrats and Whigs, met in convention and
adopted resolutions indorsing the Compromise of ’50, as a
“finality,” a final settlement, so far as these parties could
make it so, of all slavery agitation. Previous to this, in 1851,
the Illinois Legislature had indorsed it.

During this long period of time, Nebraska (the Nebraska
Territory, not the State of as we know it now) had remained
substantially an uninhabited country, but now emigration to and
settlement within it began to take place. It is about one third
as large as the present United States, and its importance, so
long overlooked, begins to come into view. The restriction of
slavery by the Missouri Compromise directly applies to it–in
fact was first made, and has since been maintained expressly for
it. In 1853, a bill to give it a territorial government passed
the House of Representatives, and, in the hands of Judge Douglas,
failed of passing only for want of time. This bill contained no
repeal of the Missouri Compromise. Indeed, when it was assailed
because it did not contain such repeal, Judge Douglas defended it
in its existing form. On January 4, 1854, Judge Douglas
introduces a new bill to give Nebraska territorial government.
He accompanies this bill with a report, in which last he
expressly recommends that the Missouri Compromise shall neither
be affirmed nor repealed. Before long the bill is so modified as
to make two territories instead of one, calling the southern one

Also, about a month after the introduction of the bill, on the
Judge’s own motion it is so amended as to declare the Missouri
Compromise inoperative and void; and, substantially, that the
people who go and settle there may establish slavery, or exclude
it, as they may see fit. In this shape the bill passed both
branches of Congress and became a law.

This is the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. The foregoing
history may not be precisely accurate in every particular, but I
am sure it is sufficiently so for all the use I shall attempt to
make of it, and in it we have before us the chief material
enabling us to judge correctly whether the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise is right or wrong. I think, and shall try to show,
that it is wrong–wrong in its direct effect, letting slavery
into Kansas and Nebraska, and wrong in its prospective principle,
allowing it to spread to every other part of the wide world where
men can be found inclined to take it.

This declared indifference, but, as I must think, covert real
zeal, for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it
because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it
because it deprives our republican example of its just influence
in the world; enables the enemies of free institutions with
plausibility to taunt us as hypocrites; causes the real friends
of freedom to doubt our sincerity; and especially because it
forces so many good men among ourselves into an open war with the
very fundamental principles of civil liberty, criticizing the
Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right
principle of action but self-interest.

Before proceeding let me say that I think I have no prejudice
against the Southern people. They are just what we would be in
their situation. If slavery did not now exist among them, they
would not introduce it. If it did now exist among us, we should
not instantly give it up. This I believe of the masses North and
South. Doubtless there are individuals on both sides who would
not hold slaves under any circumstances, and others who would
gladly introduce slavery anew if it were out of existence. We
know that some Southern men do free their slaves, go North and
become tip-top abolitionists, while some Northern ones go South
and become most cruel slave masters.

When Southern people tell us that they are no more responsible
for the origin of slavery than we are, I acknowledge the fact.
When it is said that the institution exists, and that it is very
difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, I can
understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame
them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If
all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do as
to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to free
all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native
land. But a moment’s reflection would convince me that whatever
of high hope (as I think there is) there may be in this in the
long run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all
landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next ten
days; and there are not surplus shipping and surplus money enough
to carry them there in many times ten days. What then? Free
them all, and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite
certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not
hold one in slavery at any rate, yet the point is not clear
enough for me to denounce people upon. What next? Free them,
and make them politically and socially our equals? My own
feelings will not admit of this, and if mine would, we well know
that those of the great mass of whites will not. Whether this
feeling accords with justice and sound judgment is not the sole
question, if indeed it is any part of it. A universal feeling,
whether well or ill founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We
cannot then make them equals. It does seem to me that systems of
gradual emancipation might be adopted, but for their tardiness in
this I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South.

When they remind us of their constitutional rights, I acknowledge
them–not grudgingly, but fully and fairly; and I would give them
any legislation for the reclaiming of their fugitives which
should not in its stringency be more likely to carry a free man
into slavery than our ordinary criminal laws are to hang an
innocent one.

But all this, to my judgment, furnishes no more excuse for
permitting slavery to go into our own free territory than it
would for reviving the African slave trade by law. The law which
forbids the bringing of slaves from Africa, and that which has so
long forbidden the taking of them into Nebraska, can hardy be
distinguished on any moral principle, and the repeal of the
former could find quite as plausible excuses as that of the

The arguments by which the repeal of the Missouri Compromise is
sought to be justified are these:

First. That the Nebraska country needed a territorial

Second. That in various ways the public had repudiated that
compromise and demanded the repeal, and therefore should not now
complain of it.

And, lastly, That the repeal establishes a principle which is
intrinsically right.

I will attempt an answer to each of them in its turn.

First, then: If that country was in need of a territorial
organization, could it not have had it as well without as with a
repeal? Iowa and Minnesota, to both of which the Missouri
restriction applied,
had, without its repeal, each in succession, territorial
organizations. And even the year before, a bill for Nebraska
itself was within an ace of passing without the repealing clause,
and this in the hands of the same men who are now the champions
of repeal. Why no necessity then for repeal? But still later,
when this very bill was first brought in, it contained no repeal.
But, say they, because the people had demanded, or rather
commanded, the repeal, the repeal was to accompany the
organization whenever that should occur.

Now, I deny that the public ever demanded any such thing–ever
repudiated the Missouri Compromise, ever commanded its repeal. I
deny it, and call for the proof. It is not contended, I believe,
that any such command has ever been given in express terms. It
is only said that it was done in principle. The support of the
Wilmot Proviso is the first fact mentioned to prove that the
Missouri restriction was repudiated in principle, and the second
is the refusal to extend the Missouri line over the country
acquired from Mexico. These are near enough alike to be treated
together. The one was to exclude the chances of slavery from the
whole new acquisition by the lump, and the other was to reject a
division of it, by which one half was to be given up to those
chances. Now, whether this was a repudiation of the Missouri
line in principle depends upon whether the Missouri law contained
any principle requiring the line to be extended over the country
acquired from Mexico. I contend it did not. I insist that it
contained no general principle, but that it was, in every sense,
specific. That its terms limit it to the country purchased from
France is undenied and undeniable. It could have no principle
beyond the intention of those who made it. They did not intend
to extend the line to country which they did not own. If they
intended to extend it in the event of acquiring additional
territory, why did they not say so? It was just as easy to say
that “in all the country west of the Mississippi which we now
own, or may hereafter acquire, there shall never be slavery,” as
to say what they did say; and they would have said it if they had
meant it. An intention to extend the law is not only not
mentioned in the law, but is not mentioned in any contemporaneous
history. Both the law itself, and the history of the times, are
a blank as to any principle of extension; and by neither the
known rules of construing statutes and contracts, nor by common
sense, can any such principle be inferred.

Another fact showing the specific character of the Missouri law–
showing that it intended no more than it expressed, showing that
the line was not intended as a universal dividing line between
Free and Slave territory, present and prospective, north of which
slavery could never go–is the fact that by that very law
Missouri came in as a slave State, north of the line. If that
law contained any prospective principle, the whole law must be
looked to in order to ascertain what the principle was. And by
this rule the South could fairly contend that, inasmuch as they
got one slave State north of the line at the inception of the
law, they have the right to have another given them north of it
occasionally, now and then, in the indefinite westward extension
of the line. This demonstrates the absurdity of attempting to
deduce a prospective principle from the Missouri Compromise line.

When we voted for the Wilmot Proviso we were voting to keep
slavery out of the whole Mexican acquisition, and little did we
think we were thereby voting to let it into Nebraska lying
several hundred miles distant. When we voted against extending
the Missouri line, little did we think we were voting to destroy
the old line, then of near thirty years’ standing.

To argue that we thus repudiated the Missouri Compromise is no
less absurd than it would be to argue that because we have so far
forborne to acquire Cuba, we have thereby, in principle,
repudiated our former acquisitions and determined to throw them
out of the Union. No less absurd than it would be to say that
because I may have refused to build an addition to my house, I
thereby have decided to destroy the existing house! And if I
catch you setting fire to my house, you will turn upon me and say
I instructed you to do it!

The most conclusive argument, however, that while for the Wilmot
Proviso, and while voting against the extension of the Missouri
line, we never thought of disturbing the original Missouri
Compromise, is found in the fact that there was then, and still
is, an unorganized tract of fine country, nearly as large as the
State of Missouri, lying immediately west of Arkansas and south
of the Missouri Compromise line, and that we never attempted to
prohibit slavery as to it. I wish particular attention to this.
It adjoins the original Missouri Compromise line by its northern
boundary, and consequently is part of the country into which by
implication slavery was permitted to go by that compromise.
There it has lain open ever s, and there it still lies, and yet
no effort has been made at any time to wrest it from the South.
In all our struggles to prohibit slavery within our Mexican
acquisitions, we never so much as lifted a finger to prohibit it
as to this tract. Is not this entirely conclusive that at all
times we have held the Missouri Compromise as a sacred thing,
even when against ourselves as well as when for us?

Senator Douglas sometimes says the Missouri line itself was in
principle only an extension of the line of the Ordinance of ’87–
that is to say, an extension of the Ohio River. I think this is
weak enough on its face. I will remark, however, that, as a
glance at the map will show, the Missouri line is a long way
farther south than the Ohio, and that if our Senator in proposing
his extension had stuck to the principle of jogging southward,
perhaps it might not have been voted down so readily.

But next it is said that the compromises of ’50, and the
ratification of them by both political parties in ’52,
established a new principle which required the repeal of the
Missouri Compromise. This again I deny. I deny it, and demand
the proof. I have already stated fully what the compromises of
’50 are. That particular part of those measures from which the
virtual repeal of the Missouri Compromise is sought to be
inferred (for it is admitted they contain nothing about it in
express terms) is the provision in the Utah and New Mexico laws
which permits them when they seek admission into the Union as
States to come in with or without slavery, as they shall then see
fit. Now I insist this provision was made for Utah and New
Mexico, and for no other place whatever. It had no more direct
reference to Nebraska than it had to the territories of the moon.
But, say they, it had reference to Nebraska in principle. Let us
see. The North consented to this provision, not because they
considered it right in itself, but because they were compensated-
-paid for it.

They at the same time got California into the Union as a free
State. This was far the best part of all they had struggled for
by the Wilmot Proviso. They also got the area of slavery
somewhat narrowed in the settlement of the boundary of Texas.
Also they got the slave trade abolished in the District of

For all these desirable objects the North could afford to yield
something; and they did yield to the South the Utah and New
Mexico provision. I do not mean that the whole North, or even a
majority, yielded, when the law passed; but enough yielded–when
added to the vote of the South, to carry the measure. Nor can it
be pretended that the principle of this arrangement requires us
to permit the same provision to be applied to Nebraska, without
any equivalent at all. Give us another free State; press the
boundary of Texas still farther back; give us another step toward
the destruction of slavery in the District, and you present us a
similar case. But ask us not to repeat, for nothing, what you
paid for in the first instance. If you wish the thing again, pay
again. That is the principle of the compromises of ’50, if,
indeed, they had any principles beyond their specific terms–it
was the system of equivalents.

Again, if Congress, at that time, intended that all future
Territories should, when admitted as States, come in with or
without slavery at their own option, why did it not say so?
With such a universal provision, all know the bills could not
have passed. Did they, then–could they-establish a principle
contrary to their own intention? Still further, if they intended
to establish the principle that, whenever Congress had control,
it should be left to the people to do as they thought fit with
slavery, why did they not authorize the people of the District of
Columbia, at their option, to abolish slavery within their

I personally know that this has not been left undone because it
was unthought of. It was frequently spoken of by members of
Congress, and by citizens of Washington, six years ago; and I
heard no one express a doubt that a system of gradual
emancipation, with compensation to owners, would meet the
approbation of a large majority of the white people of the
District. But without the action of Congress they could say
nothing; and Congress said “No.” In the measures of 1850,
Congress had the subject of slavery in the District expressly on
hand. If they were then establishing the principle of allowing
the people to do as they please with slavery, why did they not
apply the principle to that people?

Again it is claimed that by the resolutions of the Illinois
Legislature, passed in 1851, the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise was demanded. This I deny also. Whatever may be
worked out by a criticism of the language of those resolutions,
the people have never understood them as being any more than an
indorsement of the compromises of 1850, and a release of our
senators from voting for the Wilmot Proviso. The whole people
are living witnesses that this only was their view. Finally, it
is asked, “If we did not mean to apply the Utah and New Mexico
provision to all future territories, what did we mean when we, in
1852, indorsed the compromises of 1850?”

For myself I can answer this question most easily. I meant not
to ask a repeal or modification of the Fugitive Slave law. I
meant not to ask for the abolition of slavery in the District of
Columbia. I meant not to resist the admission of Utah and New
Mexico, even should they ask to come in as slave States. I meant
nothing about additional Territories, because, as I understood,
we then had no Territory whose character as to slavery was not
already settled. As to Nebraska, I regarded its character as
being fixed by the Missouri Compromise for thirty years–as
unalterably fixed as that of my own home in Illinois. As to new
acquisitions, I said, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil
thereof.” When we make new acquisitions, we will, as heretofore,
try to manage them somehow. That is my answer; that is what I
meant and said; and I appeal to the people to say each for
himself whether that is not also the universal meaning of the
free States.

And now, in turn, let me ask a few questions. If, by any or all
these matters, the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was
commanded, why was not the command sooner obeyed? Why was the
repeal omitted in the Nebraska Bill of 1853? Why was it omitted
in the original bill of 1854? Why in the accompanying report was
such a repeal characterized as a departure from the course
pursued in 1850 and its continued omission recommended?

I am aware Judge Douglas now argues that the subsequent express
repeal is no substantial alteration of the bill. This argument
seems wonderful to me. It is as if one should argue that white
and black are not different. He admits, however, that there is a
literal change in the bill, and that he made the change in
deference to other senators who would not support the bill
without. This proves that those other senators thought the
change a substantial one, and that the Judge thought their
opinions worth deferring to. His own opinions, therefore, seem
not to rest on a very firm basis, even in his own mind; and I
suppose the world believes, and will continue to believe, that
precisely on the substance of that change this whole agitation
has arisen.

I conclude, then, that the public never demanded the repeal of
the Missouri Compromise

I now come to consider whether the appeal with its avowed
principles, is intrinsically right. I insist that it is not.
Take the particular case. A controversy had arisen between the
advocates and opponents of slavery, in relation to its
establishment within the country we had purchased of France. The
southern, and then best, part of the purchase was already in as a
slave State. The controversy was settled by also letting
Missouri in as a slave State; but with the agreement that within
all the remaining part of the purchase, north of a certain line,
there should never be slavery. As to what was to be done with
the remaining part, south of the line, nothing was said; but
perhaps the fair implication was, it should come in with slavery
if it should so choose. The southern part, except a portion
heretofore mentioned, afterward did come in with slavery, as the
State of Arkansas. All these many years, since 1820, the
northern part had remained a wilderness. At length settlements
began in it also. In due course Iowa came in as a free State,
and Minnesota was given a territorial government, without
removing the slavery restriction. Finally, the sole remaining
part north of the line–Kansas and Nebraska–was to be organized;
and it is proposed, and carried, to blot out the old dividing
line of thirty-four years’ standing, and to open the whole of
that country to the introduction of slavery. Now this, to my
mind, is manifestly unjust. After an angry and dangerous
controversy, the parties made friends by dividing the bone of
contention. The one party first appropriates her own share,
beyond all power to be disturbed in the possession of it, and
then seizes the share of the other party. It is as if two
starving men had divided their only loaf, the one had hastily
swallowed his half, and then grabbed the other’s half just as he
was putting it to his mouth.

Let me here drop the main argument, to notice what I consider
rather an inferior matter. It is argued that slavery will not go
to Kansas and Nebraska, in any event. This is a palliation, a
lullaby. I have some hope that it will not; but let us not be
too confident. As to climate, a glance at the map shows that
there are five slave States–Delaware, Maryland, Virginia,
Kentucky, and Missouri, and also the District of Columbia, all
north of the Missouri Compromise line. The census returns of
1850 show that within these there are eight hundred and sixty-
seven thousand two hundred and seventy-six slaves, being more
than one fourth of all the slaves in the nation.

It is not climate, then, that will keep slavery out of these
Territories. Is there anything in the peculiar nature of the
country? Missouri adjoins these Territories by her entire
western boundary, and slavery is already within every one of her
western counties. I have even heard it said that there are more
slaves in proportion to whites in the northwestern county of
Missouri than within any other county in the State. Slavery
pressed entirely up to the old western boundary of the State, and
when rather recently a part of that boundary at the northwest was
moved out a little farther west, slavery followed on quite up to
the new line. Now, when the restriction is removed, what is to
prevent it from going still farther? Climate will not, no
peculiarity of the country will, nothing in nature will. Will
the disposition of the people prevent it? Those nearest the
scene are all in favor of the extension. The Yankees who are
opposed to it may be most flumerous; but, in military phrase, the
battlefield is too far from their base of operations.

But it is said there now is no law in Nebraska on the subject of
slavery, and that, in such case, taking a slave there operates
his freedom. That is good book-law, but it is not the rule of
actual practice. Wherever slavery is it has been first
introduced without law. The oldest laws we find concerning it
are not laws introducing it, but regulating it as an already
existing thing. A white man takes his slave to Nebraska now.
Who will inform the negro that he is free? Who will take him
before court to test the question of his freedom? In ignorance
of his legal emancipation he is kept chopping, splitting, and
plowing. Others are brought, and move on in the same track. At
last, if ever the time for voting comes on the question of
slavery the institution already, in fact, exists in the country,
and cannot well be removed. The fact of its presence, and the
difficulty of its removal, will carry the vote in its favor.
Keep it out until a vote is taken, and a vote in favor of it
cannot be got in any population of forty thousand on earth, who
have been drawn together by the ordinary motives of emigration
and settlement. To get slaves into the Territory simultaneously
with the whites in the incipient stages of settlement is the
precise stake played for and won in this Nebraska measure.

The question is asked us: “If slaves will go in notwithstanding
the general principle of law liberates them, why would they not
equally go in against positive statute law–go in, even if the
Missouri restriction were maintained!” I answer, because it takes
a much bolder man to venture in with his property in the latter
case than in the former; because the positive Congressional
enactment is known to and respected by all, or nearly all,
whereas the negative principle that no law is free law is not
much known except among lawyers. We have some experience of this
practical difference. In spite of the Ordinance of ’87, a few
negroes were brought into Illinois, and held in a state of quasi-
slavery, not enough, however, to carry a vote of the people in
favor of the institution when they came to form a constitution.
But into the adjoining Missouri country, where there was no
Ordinance of ’87,–was no restriction,–they were carried ten
times, nay, a hundred times, as fast, and actually made a slave
State. This is fact-naked fact.

Another lullaby argument is that taking slaves to new countries
does not increase their number, does not make any one slave who
would otherwise be free. There is some truth in this, and I am
glad of it; but it is not wholly true. The African slave trade
is not yet effectually suppressed; and, if we make a reasonable
deduction for the white people among us who are foreigners and
the descendants of foreigners arriving here since 1808, we shall
find the increase of the black population outrunning that of the
white to an extent unaccountable, except by supposing that some
of them, too, have been coming from Africa. If this be so, the
opening of new countries to the institution increases the demand
for and augments the price of slaves, and so does, in fact, make
slaves of freemen, by causing them to be brought from Africa and
sold into bondage.

But however this may be, we know the opening of new countries to
slavery tends to the perpetuation of the institution, and so does
keep men in slavery who would otherwise be free. This result we
do not feel like favoring, and we are under no legal obligation
to suppress our feelings in this respect.

Equal justice to the South, it is said, requires us to consent to
the extension of slavery to new countries. That is to say,
inasmuch as you do not object to my taking my hog to Nebraska,
therefore I must not object to your taking your slave. Now, I
admit that this is perfectly logical if there is no difference
between hogs and negroes. But while you thus require me to deny
the humanity of the negro, I wish to ask whether you of the
South, yourselves, have ever been willing to do as much? It is
kindly provided that of all those who come into the world only a
small percentage are natural tyrants. That percentage is no
larger in the slave States than in the free. The great majority
South, as well as North, have human sympathies, of which they can
no more divest themselves than they can of their sensibility to
physical pain. These sympathies in the bosoms of the Southern
people manifest, in many ways, their sense of the wrong of
slavery, and their consciousness that, after all, there is
humanity in the negro. If they deny this, let me address them a
few plain questions. In 1820 you (the South) joined the North,
almost unanimously, in declaring the African slave trade piracy,
and in annexing to it the punishment of death. Why did you do
this? If you did not feel that it was wrong, why did you join in
providing that men should be hung for it? The practice was no
more than bringing wild negroes from Africa to such as would buy
them. But you never thought of hanging men for catching and
selling wild horses, wild buffaloes, or wild bears.

Again, you have among you a sneaking individual of the class of
native tyrants known as the “slavedealer.” He watches your
necessities, and crawls up to buy your slave, at a speculating
price. If you cannot help it, you sell to him; but if you can
help it, you drive him from your door. You despise him utterly.
You do not recognize him as a friend, or even as an honest man.
Your children must not play with his; they may rollick freely
with the little negroes, but not with the slave-dealer’s
children. If you are obliged to deal with him, you try to get
through the job without so much as touching him. It is common
with you to join hands with the men you meet, but with the slave-
dealer you avoid the ceremony–instinctively shrinking from the
snaky contact. If he grows rich and retires from business, you
still remember him, and still keep up the ban of non-intercourse
upon him and his family. Now, why is this? You do not so treat
the man who deals in corn, cotton, or tobacco.

And yet again: There are in the United States and Territories,
including the District of Columbia, 433,643 free blacks. At five
hundred dollars per head they are worth over two hundred millions
of dollars. How comes this vast amount of property to be running
about without owners? We do not see free horses or free cattle
running at large. How is this? All these free blacks are the
descendants of slaves, or have been slaves themselves; and they
would be slaves now but for something which has operated on their
white owners, inducing them at vast pecuniary sacrifice to
liberate them. What is that something? Is there any mistaking
it? In all these cases it is your sense of justice and human
sympathy continually telling you that the poor negro has some
natural right to himself–that those who deny it and make mere
merchandise of him deserve kickings, contempt, and death.

And now why will you ask us to deny the humanity of the slave,
and estimate him as only the equal of the hog? Why ask us to do
what you will not do yourselves? Why ask us to do for nothing
what two hundred millions of dollars could not induce you to do?

But one great argument in support of the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise is still to come. That argument is “the sacred right
of self-government.” It seems our distinguished Senator has found
great difficulty in getting his antagonists, even in the Senate,
to meet him fairly on this argument. Some poet has said:

“Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”

At the hazard of being thought one of the fools of this
quotation, I meet that argument–I rush in–I take that bull by
the horns. I trust I understand and truly estimate the right of
self-government. My faith in the proposition that each man
should do precisely as he pleases with all which is exclusively
his own lies at the foundation of the sense of justice there is
in me. I extend the principle to communities of men as well as
to individuals. I so extend it because it is politically wise,
as well as naturally just; politically wise in saving us from
broils about matters which do not concern us. Here, or at
Washington, I would not trouble myself with the oyster laws of
Virginia, or the cranberry laws of Indiana. The doctrine of
self-government is right,–absolutely and eternally right,–but
it has no just application as here attempted. Or perhaps I
should rather say that whether it has such application depends
upon whether a negro is or is not a man. If he is not a man, in
that case he who is a man may as a matter of self-government do
just what he pleases with him. But if the negro is a man, is it
not to that extent a total destruction of self-government to say
that he too shall not govern himself? When the white man governs
himself, that is self-government; but when he governs himself and
also governs another man, that is more than self-government–that
is despotism. If the negro is a man, why, then, my ancient faith
teaches me that “all men are created equal,” and that there can
be no moral right in connection with one man’s making a slave of

Judge Douglas frequently, with bitter irony and sarcasm,
paraphrases our argument by saying: “The white people of Nebraska
are good enough to govern themselves, but they are not good
enough to govern a few miserable negroes!”

Well, I doubt not that the people of Nebraska are and will
continue to be as good as the average of people elsewhere. I do
not say the contrary. What I do say is that no man is good
enough to govern another man without that other’s consent. I say
this is the leading principle, the sheet-anchor of American
republicanism. Our Declaration of Independence says:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty,
and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights,
governments are instituted among men, DERIVING THEIR JUST POWERS

I have quoted so much at this time merely to show that, according
to our ancient faith, the just powers of government are derived
from the consent of the governed. Now the relation of master and
slave is pro tanto a total violation of this principle. The
master not only governs the slave without his consent, but he
governs him by a set of rules altogether different from those
which he prescribes for himself. Allow all the governed an equal
voice in the government, and that, and that only, is self-

Let it not be said that I am contending for the establishment of
political and social equality between the whites and blacks. I
have already said the contrary. I am not combating the argument
of necessity, arising from the fact that the blacks are already
among us; but I am combating what is set up as moral argument for
allowing them to be taken where they have never yet been–arguing
against the extension of a bad thing, which, where it already
exists, we must of necessity manage as we best can.

In support of his application of the doctrine of self-government,
Senator Douglas has sought to bring to his aid the opinions and
examples of our Revolutionary fathers. I am glad he has done
this. I love the sentiments of those old-time men, and shall be
most happy to abide by their opinions. He shows us that when it
was in contemplation for the colonies to break off from Great
Britain, and set up a new government for themselves, several of
the States instructed their delegates to go for the measure,
provided each State should be allowed to regulate its domestic
concerns in its own way. I do not quote; but this in substance.
This was right; I see nothing objectionable in it. I also think
it probable that it had some reference to the existence of
slavery among them. I will not deny that it had. But had it any
reference to the carrying of slavery into new countries? That is
the question, and we will let the fathers themselves answer it.

This same generation of men, and mostly the same individuals of
the generation who declared this principle, who declared
independence, who fought the war of the Revolution through, who
afterward made the Constitution under which we still live–these
same men passed the Ordinance of ’87, declaring that slavery
should never go to the Northwest Territory.

I have no doubt Judge Douglas thinks they were very inconsistent
in this. It is a question of discrimination between them and
him. But there is not an inch of ground left for his claiming
that their opinions, their example, their authority, are on his
side in the controversy.

Again, is not Nebraska, while a Territory, a part of us? Do we
not own the country? And if we surrender the control of it, do
we not surrender the right of self-government? It is part of
ourselves. If you say we shall not control it, because it is
only part, the same is true of every other part; and when all the
parts are gone, what has become of the whole? What is then left
of us? What use for the General Government, when there is
nothing left for it to govern?

But you say this question should be left to the people of
Nebraska, because they are more particularly interested. If this
be the rule, you must leave it to each individual to say for
himself whether he will have slaves. What better moral right
have thirty-one citizens of Nebraska to say that the thirty-
second shall not hold slaves than the people of the thirty-one
States have to say that slavery shall not go into the thirty-
second State at all?

But if it is a sacred right for the people of Nebraska to take
and hold slaves there, it is equally their sacred right to buy
them where they can buy them cheapest; and that, undoubtedly,
will be on the coast of Africa, provided you will consent not to
hang them for going there to buy them. You must remove this
restriction, too, from the sacred right of self-government. I am
aware you say that taking slaves from the States to Nebraska does
not make slaves of freemen; but the African slave-trader can say
just as much. He does not catch free negroes and bring them
here. He finds them already slaves in the hands of their black
captors, and he honestly buys them at the rate of a red cotton
handkerchief a head. This is very cheap, and it is a great
abridgment of the sacred right of self-government to hang men for
engaging in this profitable trade.

Another important objection to this application of the right of
self-government is that it enables the first few to deprive the
succeeding many of a free exercise of the right of self-
government. The first few may get slavery in, and the subsequent
many cannot easily get it out. How common is the remark now in
the slave States, “If we were only clear of our slaves, how much
better it would be for us.” They are actually deprived of the
privilege of governing themselves as they would, by the action of
a very few in the beginning. The same thing was true of the
whole nation at the time our Constitution was formed.

Whether slavery shall go into Nebraska, or other new Territories,
is not a matter of exclusive concern to the people who may go
there. The whole nation is interested that the best use shall be
made of these Territories. We want them for homes of free white
people. This they cannot be, to any considerable extent, if
slavery shall be planted within them. Slave States are places
for poor white people to remove from, not to remove to. New free
States are the places for poor people to go to, and better their
condition. For this use the nation needs these Territories.

Still further: there are constitutional relations between the
slave and free States which are degrading to the latter. We are
under legal obligations to catch and return their runaway slaves
to them: a sort of dirty, disagreeable job, which, I believe, as
a general rule, the slaveholders will not perform for one
another. Then again, in the control of the government–the
management of the partnership affairs–they have greatly the
advantage of us. By the Constitution each State has two
senators, each has a number of representatives in proportion to
the number of its people, and each has a number of Presidential
electors equal to the whole number of its senators and
representatives together. But in ascertaining the number of the
people for this purpose, five slaves are counted as being equal
to three whites. The slaves do not vote; they are only counted
and so used as to swell the influence of the white people’s
votes. The practical effect of this is more aptly shown by a
comparison of the States of South Carolina and Maine. South
Carolina has six representatives, and so has Maine; South
Carolina has eight Presidential electors, and so has Maine. This
is precise equality so far; and of course they are equal in
senators, each having two. Thus in the control of the government
the two States are equals precisely. But how are they in the
number of their white people? Maine has 581,813, while South
Carolina has 274,567; Maine has twice as many as South Carolina,
and 32,679 over. Thus, each white man in South Carolina is more
than the double of any man in Maine. This is all because South
Carolina, besides her free people, has 384,984 slaves. The South
Carolinian has precisely the same advantage over the white man in
every other free State as well as in Maine. He is more than the
double of any one of us in this crowd. The same advantage, but
not to the same extent, is held by all the citizens of the slave
States over those of the free; and it is an absolute truth,
without an exception, that there is no voter in any slave State
but who has more legal power in the government than any voter in
any free State. There is no instance of exact equality; and the
disadvantage is against us the whole chapter through. This
principle, in the aggregate, gives the slave States in the
present Congress twenty additional representatives, being seven
more than the whole majority by which they passed the Nebraska

Now all this is manifestly unfair; yet I do not mention it to
complain of it, in so far as it is already settled. It is in the
Constitution, and I do not for that cause, or any other cause,
propose to destroy, or alter, or disregard the Constitution. I
stand to it, fairly, fully, and firmly.

But when I am told I must leave it altogether to other people to
say whether new partners are to be bred up and brought into the
firm, on the same degrading terms against me, I respectfully
demur. I insist that whether I shall be a whole man or only the
half of one, in comparison with others is a question in which I
am somewhat concerned, and one which no other man can have a
sacred right of deciding for me. If I am wrong in this, if it
really be a sacred right of self-government in the man who shall
go to Nebraska to decide whether he will be the equal of me or
the double of me, then, after he shall have exercised that right,
and thereby shall have reduced me to a still smaller fraction of
a man than I already am, I should like for some gentleman, deeply
skilled in the mysteries of sacred rights, to provide himself
with a microscope, and peep about, and find out, if he can, what
has become of my sacred rights. They will surely be too small
for detection with the naked eye.

Finally, I insist that if there is anything which it is the duty
of the whole people to never intrust to any hands but their own,
that thing is the preservation and perpetuity of their own
liberties and institutions. And if they shall think as I do,
that the extension of slavery endangers them more than any or all
other causes, how recreant to themselves if they submit The
question, and with it the fate of their country, to a mere
handful of men bent only on seif-interest. If this question of
slavery extension were an insignificant one, one having no power
to do harm–it might be shuffled aside in this way; and being, as
it is, the great Behemoth of danger, shall the strong grip of the
nation be loosened upon him, to intrust him to the hands of such
feeble keepers?

I have done with this mighty argument of self-government. Go,
sacred thing! Go in peace.

But Nebraska is urged as a great Union-saving measure. Well, I
too go for saving the Union. Much as I hate slavery, I would
consent to the extension of it rather than see the Union
dissolved, just as I would consent to any great evil to avoid a
greater one. But when I go to Union-saving, I must believe, at
least, that the means I employ have some adaptation to the end.
To my mind, Nebraska has no such adaptation.

“It hath no relish of salvation in it.”

It is an aggravation, rather, of the only one thing which ever
endangers the Union. When it came upon us, all was peace and
quiet. The nation was looking to the forming of new bends of
union, and a long course of peace and prosperity seemed to lie
before us. In the whole range of possibility, there scarcely
appears to me to have been anything out of which the slavery
agitation could have been revived, except the very project of
repealing the Missouri Compromise. Every inch of territory we
owned already had a definite settlement of the slavery question,
by which all parties were pledged to abide. Indeed, there was no
uninhabited country on the continent which we could acquire, if
we except some extreme northern regions which are wholly out of
the question.

In this state of affairs the Genius of Discord himself could
scarcely have invented a way of again setting us by the ears but
by turning back and destroying the peace measures of the past.
The counsels of that Genius seem to have prevailed. The Missouri
Compromise was repealed; and here we are in the midst of a new
slavery agitation, such, I think, as we have never seen before.
Who is responsible for this? Is it those who resist the measure,
or those who causelessly brought it forward, and pressed it
through, having reason to know, and in fact knowing, it must and
would be so resisted? It could not but be expected by its author
that it would be looked upon as a measure for the extension of
slavery, aggravated by a gross breach of faith.

Argue as you will and long as you will, this is the naked front
and aspect of the measure. And in this aspect it could not but
produce agitation. Slavery is founded in the selfishness of
man’s nature–opposition to it in his love of justice. These
principles are at eternal antagonism, and when brought into
collision so fiercely as slavery extension brings them, shocks
and throes and convulsions must ceaselessly follow. Repeal the
Missouri Compromise, repeal all compromises, repeal the
Declaration of Independence, repeal all past history, you still
cannot repeal human nature. It still will be the abundance of
man’s heart that slavery extension is wrong, and out of the
abundance of his heart his mouth will continue to speak.

The structure, too, of the Nebraska Bill is very peculiar. The
people are to decide the question of slavery for themselves; but
when they are to decide, or how they are to decide, or whether,
when the question is once decided, it is to remain so or is to be
subject to an indefinite succession of new trials, the law does
not say. Is it to be decided by the first dozen settlers who
arrive there, or is it to await the arrival of a hundred? Is it
to be decided by a vote of the people or a vote of the
Legislature, or, indeed, by a vote of any sort? To these
questions the law gives no answer. There is a mystery about
this; for when a member proposed to give the Legislature express
authority to exclude slavery, it was hooted down by the friends
of the bill. This fact is worth remembering. Some Yankees in
the East are sending emigrants to Nebraska to exclude slavery
from it; and, so far as I can judge, they expect the question to
be decided by voting in some way or other. But the Missourians
are awake, too. They are within a stone’s-throw of the contested
ground. They hold meetings and pass resolutions, in which not
the slightest allusion to voting is made. They resolve that
slavery already exists in the Territory; that more shall go
there; that they, remaining in Missouri, will protect it, and
that abolitionists shall be hung or driven away. Through all
this bowie knives and six-shooters are seen plainly enough, but
never a glimpse of the ballot-box.

And, really, what is the result of all this? Each party within
having numerous and determined backers without, is it not
probable that the contest will come to blows and bloodshed?
Could there be a more apt invention to bring about collision and
violence on the slavery question than this Nebraska project is?
I do not charge or believe that such was intended by Congress;
but if they had literally formed a ring and placed champions
within it to fight out the controversy, the fight could be no
more likely to come off than it is. And if this fight should
begin, is it likely to take a very peaceful, Union-saving turn?
Will not the first drop of blood so shed be the real knell of the

The Missouri Compromise ought to be restored. For the sake of
the Union, it ought to be restored. We ought to elect a House of
Representatives which will vote its restoration. If by any means
we omit to do this, what follows? Slavery may or may not be
established in Nebraska. But whether it be or not, we shall have
repudiated–discarded from the councils of the nation–the spirit
of compromise; for who, after this, will ever trust in a national
compromise? The spirit of mutual concession–that spirit which
first gave us the Constitution, and which has thrice saved the
Union–we shall have strangled and cast from us forever. And
what shall we have in lieu of it? The South flushed with triumph
and tempted to excess; the North, betrayed as they believe,
brooding on wrong and burning for revenge. One side will
provoke, the other resent. The one will taunt, the other defy;
one aggresses, the other retaliates. Already a few in the North
defy all constitutional restraints, resist the execution of the
Fugitive Slave law, and even menace the institution of slavery in
the States where it exists. Already a few in the South claim the
constitutional right to take and to hold slaves in the free
States, demand the revival of the slave trade, and demand a
treaty with Great Britain by which fugitive slaves may be
reclaimed from Canada. As yet they are but few on either side.
It is a grave question for lovers of the union whether the final
destruction of the Missouri Compromise, and with it the spirit of
all compromise, will or will not embolden and embitter each of
these, and fatally increase the number of both.

But restore the compromise, and what then? We thereby restore
the national faith, the national confidence, the national feeling
of brotherhood. We thereby reinstate the spirit of concession
and compromise, that spirit which has never failed us in past
perils, and which may be safely trusted for all the future. The
South ought to join in doing this. The peace of the nation is as
dear to them as to us. In memories of the past and hopes of the
future, they share as largely as we. It would be on their part a
great act–great in its spirit, and great in its effect. It
would be worth to the nation a hundred years purchase of peace
and prosperity. And what of sacrifice would they make? They
only surrender to us what they gave us for a consideration long,
long ago; what they have not now asked for, struggled or cared
for; what has been thrust upon them, not less to their
astonishment than to ours.

But it is said we cannot restore it; that though we elect every
member of the lower House, the Senate is still against us. It is
quite true that of the senators who passed the Nebraska Bill a
majority of the whole Senate will retain their seats in spite of
the elections of this and the next year. But if at these
elections their several constituencies shall clearly express
their will against Nebraska, will these senators disregard their
will? Will they neither obey nor make room for those who will?

But even if we fail to technically restore the compromise, it is
still a great point to carry a popular vote in favor of the
restoration. The moral weight of such a vote cannot be estimated
too highly. The authors of Nebraska are not at all satisfied
with the destruction of the compromise–an indorsement of this
principle they proclaim to be the great object. With them,
Nebraska alone is a small matter–to establish a principle for
future use is what they particularly desire.

The future use is to be the planting of slavery wherever in the
wide world local and unorganized opposition cannot prevent it.
Now, if you wish to give them this indorsement, if you wish to
establish this principle, do so. I shall regret it, but it is
your right. On the contrary, if you are opposed to the
principle,–intend to give it no such indorsement, let no
wheedling, no sophistry, divert you from throwing a direct vote
against it.

Some men, mostly Whigs, who condemn the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise, nevertheless hesitate to go for its restoration, lest
they be thrown in company with the abolitionists. Will they
allow me, as an old Whig, to tell them, good-humoredly, that I
think this is very silly? Stand with anybody that stands right.
Stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes
wrong. Stand with the abolitionist in restoring the Missouri
Compromise, and stand against him when he attempts to repeal the
Fugitive Slave law. In the latter case you stand with the
Southern disunionist. What of that? You are still right. In
both cases you are right. In both cases you oppose the dangerous
extremes. In both you stand on middle ground, and hold the
ship level and steady. In both you are national, and nothing
less than national. This is the good old Whig ground. To desert
such ground because of any company is to be less than a Whig–
less than a man–less than an American.

I particularly object to the new position which the avowed
principle of this Nebraska law gives to slavery in the body
politic. I object to it because it assumes that there can be
moral right in the enslaving of one man by another. I object to
it as a dangerous dalliance for a free people–a sad evidence
that, feeling prosperity, we forget right; that liberty, as a
principle, we have ceased to revere. I object to it because the
fathers of the republic eschewed and rejected it. The argument
of “necessity” was the only argument they ever admitted in favor
of slavery; and so far, and so far only, as it carried them did
they ever go. They found the institution existing among us,
which they could not help, and they cast blame upon the British
king for having permitted its introduction.

The royally appointed Governor of Georgia in the early 1700’s was
threatened by the King with removal if he continued to oppose
slavery in his colony–at that time the King of England made a
small profit on every slave imported to the colonies. The later
British criticism of the United States for not eradicating
slavery in the early 1800’s, combined with their tacit support of
the ‘Confederacy’ during the Civil War is a prime example of the
irony and hypocracy of politics: that self-interest will ever
overpower right.

Before the Constitution they prohibited its introduction into the
Northwestern Territory, the only country we owned then free from
it. At the framing and adoption of the Constitution, they
forbore to so much as mention the word “slave” or “slavery” in
the whole instrument. In the provision for the recovery of
fugitives, the slave is spoken of as a “person held to service or
labor.” In that prohibiting the abolition of the African slave
trade for twenty years, that trade is spoken of as “the migration
or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing
shall think proper to admit,” etc. These are the only provisions
alluding to slavery. Thus the thing is hid away in the
Constitution, just as an afflicted man hides away a wen or cancer
which he dares not cut out at once, lest he bleed to death,–with
the promise, nevertheless, that the cutting may begin at a
certain time. Less than this our fathers could not do, and more
they would not do. Necessity drove them so far, and farther they
would not go. But this is not all. The earliest Congress under
the Constitution took the same view of slavery. They hedged and
hemmed it in to the narrowest limits of necessity.

In 1794 they prohibited an outgoing slave trade–that is, the
taking of slaves from the United States to sell. In 1798 they
prohibited the bringing of slaves from Africa into the
Mississippi Territory, this Territory then comprising what are
now the States of Mississippi and Alabama. This was ten years
before they had the authority to do the same thing as to the
States existing at the adoption of the Constitution. In 1800
they prohibited American citizens from trading in slaves between
foreign countries, as, for instance, from Africa to Brazil. In
1803 they passed a law in aid of one or two slave-State laws in
restraint of the internal slave trade. In 1807, in apparent hot
haste, they passed the law, nearly a year in advance,–to take
effect the first day of 1808, the very first day the Constitution
would permit, prohibiting the African slave trade by heavy
pecuniary and corporal penalties. In 1820, finding these
provisions ineffectual, they declared the slave trade piracy, and
annexed to it the extreme penalty of death. While all this was
passing in the General Government, five or six of the original
slave States had adopted systems of gradual emancipation, by
which the institution was rapidly becoming extinct within their
limits. Thus we see that the plain, unmistakable spirit of that
age toward slavery was hostility to the principle and toleration
only by necessity.

But now it is to be transformed into a “sacred right.” Nebraska
brings it forth, places it on the highroad to extension and
perpetuity, and with a pat on its back says to it, “Go, and God
speed you.” Henceforth it is to be the chief jewel of the nation
the very figure-head of the ship of state. Little by little, but
steadily as man’s march to the grave, we have been giving up the
old for the new faith. Near eighty years ago we began by
declaring that all men are created equal; but now from that
beginning we have run down to the other declaration, that for
some men to enslave others is a “sacred right of self-
government.” These principles cannot stand together. They are as
opposite as God and Mammon; and who ever holds to the one must
despise the other. When Pettit, in connection with his support
of the Nebraska Bill, called the Declaration of Independence “a
self-evident lie,” he only did what consistency and candor
require all other Nebraska men to do. Of the forty-odd Nebraska
senators who sat present and heard him, no one rebuked him. Nor
am I apprised that any Nebraska newspaper, or any Nebraska
orator, in the whole nation has ever yet rebuked him. If this
had been said among Marion’s men, Southerners though they were,
what would have become of the man who said it? If this had been
said to the men who captured Andre, the man who said it would
probably have been hung sooner than Andre was. If it had been
said in old Independence Hall seventy-eight years ago, the very
doorkeeper would have throttled the man and thrust him into the
street. Let no one be deceived. The spirit of seventy-six and
the spirit of Nebraska are utter antagonisms; and the former is
being rapidly displaced by the latter.

Fellow-countrymen, Americans, South as well as North, shall we
make no effort to arrest this? Already the liberal party
throughout the world express the apprehension that “the one
retrograde institution in America is undermining the principles
of progress, and fatally violating the noblest political system
the world ever saw.” This is not the taunt of enemies, but the
warning of friends. Is it quite safe to disregard it–to despise
it? Is there no danger to liberty itself in discarding the
earliest practice and first precept of our ancient faith? In our
greedy chase to make profit of the negro, let us beware lest we
“cancel and tear in pieces” even the white man’s charter of

Our republican robe is soiled and trailed in the dust. Let us
repurify it. Let us turn and wash it white in the spirit, if not
the blood, of the Revolution. Let us turn slavery from its
claims of “moral right,, back upon its existing legal rights and
its arguments of “necessity.” Let us return it to the position
our fathers gave it, and there let it rest in peace. Let us
readopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it the
practices and policy which harmonize with it. Let North and
South, let all Americans–let all lovers of liberty everywhere
join in the great and good work. If we do this, we shall not
only have saved the Union, but we shall have so saved it as to
make and to keep it forever worthy of the saving. We shall have
so saved it that the succeeding millions of free happy people the
world over shall rise up and call us blessed to the latest

At Springfield, twelve days ago, where I had spoken substantially
as I have here, Judge Douglas replied to me; and as he is to
reply to me here, I shall attempt to anticipate him by noticing
some of the points he made there. He commenced by stating I had
assumed all the way through that the principle of the Nebraska
Bill would have the effect of extending slavery. He denied that
this was intended or that this effect would follow.

I will not reopen the argument upon this point. That such was
the intention the world believed at the start, and will continue
to believe. This was the countenance of the thing, and both
friends and enemies instantly recognized it as such. That
countenance cannot now be changed by argument. You can as easily
argue the color out of the negro’s skin. Like the bloody hand,”
you may wash it and wash it, the red witness of guilt still
sticks and stares horribly at you.

Next he says that Congressional intervention never prevented
slavery anywhere; that it did not prevent it in the Northwestern
Territory, nor in Illinois; that, in fact, Illinois came into the
Union as a slave State; that the principle of the Nebraska Bill
expelled it from Illinois, from several old States, from

Now this is mere quibbling all the way through. If the Ordinance
of ’87 did not keep slavery out of the Northwest Territory, how
happens it that the northwest shore of the Ohio River is entirely
free from it, while the southeast shore, less than a mile
distant, along nearly the whole length of the river, is entirely
covered with it?

If that ordinance did not keep it out of Illinois, what was it
that made the difference between Illinois and Missouri? They lie
side by side, the Mississippi River only dividing them, while
their early settlements were within the same latitude. Between
1810 and 1820 the number of slaves in Missouri increased 7211,
while in Illinois in the same ten years they decreased 51. This
appears by the census returns. During nearly all of that ten
years both were Territories, not States. During this time the
ordinance forbade slavery to go into Illinois, and nothing
forbade it to go into Missouri. It did go into Missouri, and did
not go into Illinois. That is the fact. Can any one doubt as to
the reason of it? But he says Illinois came into the Union as a
slave State. Silence, perhaps, would be the best answer to this
flat contradiction of the known history of the country. What are
the facts upon which this bold assertion is based? When we first
acquired the country, as far back as 1787, there were some slaves
within it held by the French inhabitants of Kaskaskia. The
territorial legislation admitted a few negroes from the slave
States as indentured servants. One year after the adoption of
the first State constitution, the whole number of them was–what
do you think? Just one hundred and seventeen, while the
aggregate free population was 55,094,–about four hundred and
seventy to one. Upon this state of facts the people framed their
constitution prohibiting the further introduction of slavery,
with a sort of guaranty to the owners of the few indentured
servants, giving freedom to their children to be born thereafter,
and making no mention whatever of any supposed slave for life.
Out of this small matter the Judge manufactures his argument that
Illinois came into the Union as a slave State. Let the facts be
the answer to the argument.

The principles of the Nebraska Bill, he says, expelled slavery
from Illinois. The principle of that bill first planted it here-
-that is, it first came because there was no law to prevent it,
first came before we owned the country; and finding it here, and
having the Ordinance of ’87 to prevent its increasing, our people
struggled along, and finally got rid of it as best they could.

But the principle of the Nebraska Bill abolished slavery in
several of the old States. Well, it is true that several of the
old States, in the last quarter of the last century, did adopt
systems of gradual emancipation by which the institution has
finally become extinct within their limits; but it may or may not
be true that the principle of the Nebraska Bill was the cause
that led to the adoption of these measures. It is now more than
fifty years since the last of these States adopted its system of

If the Nebraska Bill is the real author of the benevolent works,
it is rather deplorable that it has for so long a time ceased
working altogether. Is there not some reason to suspect that it
was the principle of the Revolution, and not the principle of the
Nebraska Bill, that led to emancipation in these old States?
Leave it to the people of these old emancipating States, and I am
quite certain they will decide that neither that nor any other
good thing ever did or ever will come of the Nebraska Bill.

In the course of my main argument, Judge Douglas interrupted me
to say that the principle of the Nebraska Bill was very old; that
it originated when God made man, and placed good and evil before
him, allowing him to choose for himself, being responsible for
the choice he should make. At the time I thought this was merely
playful, and I answered it accordingly. But in his reply to me
he renewed it as a serious argument. In seriousness, then, the
facts of this proposition are not true as stated. God did not
place good and evil before man, telling him to make his choice.
On the contrary, he did tell him there was one tree of the fruit
of which he should not eat, upon pain of certain death. I should
scarcely wish so strong a prohibition against slavery in

But this argument strikes me as not a little remarkable in
another particular–in its strong resemblance to the old argument
for the divine right of kings.” By the latter, the king is to do
just as he pleases with his white subjects, being responsible to
God alone. By the former, the white man is to do just as he
pleases with his black slaves, being responsible to God alone.
The two things are precisely alike, and it is but natural that
they should find similar arguments to sustain them.

I had argued that the application of the principle of self-
government, as contended for, would require the revival of the
African slave trade; that no argument could be made in favor of a
man’s right to take slaves to Nebraska which could not be equally
well made in favor of his right to bring them from the coast of
Africa. The Judge replied that the Constitution requires the
suppression of the foreign slave trade, but does not require the
prohibition of slavery in the Territories. That is a mistake in
point of fact. The Constitution does not require the action of
Congress in either case, and it does authorize it in both. And
so there is still no difference between the cases.

In regard to what I have said of the advantage the slave States
have over the free in the matter of representation, the Judge
replied that we in the free States count five free negroes as
five white people, while in the slave States they count five
slaves as three whites only; and that the advantage, at last, was
on the side of the free States.

Now, in the slave States they count free negroes just as we do;
and it so happens that, besides their slaves, they have as many
free negroes as we have, and thirty thousand over. Thus, their
free negroes more than balance ours; and their advantage over us,
in consequence of their slaves, still remains as I stated it.

In reply to my argument that the compromise measures of 1850 were
a system of equivalents, and that the provisions of no one of
them could fairly be carried to other subjects without its
corresponding equivalent being carried with it, the Judge denied
outright that these measures had any connection with or
dependence upon each other. This is mere desperation. If they
had no connection, why are they always spoken of in connection?
Why has he so spoken of them a thousand times? Why has he
constantly called them a series of measures? Why does everybody
call them a compromise? Why was California kept out of the Union
six or seven months, if it was not because of its connection with
the other measures? Webster’s leading definition of the verb “to
compromise” is “to adjust and settle a difference, by mutual
agreement, with concessions of claims by the parties.” This
conveys precisely the popular understanding of the word

We knew, before the Judge told us, that these measures passed
separately, and in distinct bills, and that no two of them were
passed by the votes of precisely the same members. But we also
know, and so does he know, that no one of them could have passed
both branches of Congress but for the understanding that the
others were to pass also. Upon this understanding, each got
votes which it could have got in no other way. It is this fact
which gives to the measures their true character; and it is the
universal knowledge of this fact that has given them the name of
“compromises,” so expressive of that true character.

I had asked: “If, in carrying the Utah and New Mexico laws to
Nebraska, you could clear away other objection, how could you
leave Nebraska ‘perfectly free’ to introduce slavery before she
forms a constitution, during her territorial government, while
the Utah and New Mexico laws only authorize it when they form
constitutions and are admitted into the Union?” To this Judge
Douglas answered that the Utah and New Mexico laws also
authorized it before; and to prove this he read from one of their
laws, as follows: “That the legislative power of said Territory
shall extend to all rightful subjects of legislation, consistent
with the Constitution of the United States and the provisions of
this act.”

Now it is perceived from the reading of this that there is
nothing express upon the subject, but that the authority is
sought to be implied merely for the general provision of “all
rightful subjects of legislation.” In reply to this I insist, as
a legal rule of construction, as well as the plain, popular view
of the matter, that the express provision for Utah and New Mexico
coming in with slavery, if they choose, when they shall form
constitutions, is an exclusion of all implied authority on the
same subject; that Congress having the subject distinctly in
their minds when they made the express provision, they therein
expressed their whole meaning on that subject.

The Judge rather insinuated that I had found it convenient to
forget the Washington territorial law passed in 1853. This was a
division of Oregon, organizing the northern part as the Territory
of Washington. He asserted that by this act the Ordinance of
’87, theretofore existing in Oregon, was repealed; that nearly
all the members of Congress voted for it, beginning in the House
of Representatives with Charles Allen of Massachusetts, and
ending with Richard Yates of Illinois; and that he could not
understand how those who now opposed the Nebraska Bill so voted
there, unless it was because it was then too soon after both the
great political parties had ratified the compromises of 1850, and
the ratification therefore was too fresh to be then repudiated.

Now I had seen the Washington act before, and I have carefully
examined it since; and I aver that there is no repeal of the
Ordinance of ’87, or of any prohibition of slavery, in it. In
express terms, there is absolutely nothing in the whole law upon
the subject–in fact, nothing to lead a reader to think of the
subject. To my judgment it is equally free from everything from
which repeal can be legally implied; but, however this may be,
are men now to be entrapped by a legal implication, extracted
from covert language, introduced perhaps for the very purpose of
entrapping them? I sincerely wish every man could read this law
quite through, carefully watching every sentence and every line
for a repeal of the Ordinance of ’87, or anything equivalent to

Another point on the Washington act: If it was intended to be
modeled after the Utah and New Mexico acts, as Judge Douglas
insists, why was it not inserted in it, as in them, that
Washington was to come in with or without slavery as she may
choose at the adoption of her constitution? It has no such
provision in it; and I defy the ingenuity of man to give a reason
for the omission, other than that it was not intended to follow
the Utah and New Mexico laws in regard to the question of

The Washington act not only differs vitally from the Utah and New
Mexico acts, but the Nebraska act differs vitally from both. By
the latter act the people are left “perfectly free” to regulate
their own domestic concerns, etc.; but in all the former, all
their laws are to be submitted to Congress, and if disapproved
are to be null. The Washington act goes even further; it
absolutely prohibits the territorial Legislature, by very strong
and guarded language, from establishing banks or borrowing money
on the faith of the Territory. Is this the sacred right of self-
government we hear vaunted so much? No, sir; the Nebraska Bill
finds no model in the acts of ’50 or the Washington act. It
finds no model in any law from Adam till to-day. As Phillips
says of Napoleon, the Nebraska act is grand, gloomy and peculiar,
wrapped in the solitude of its own originality, without a model
and without a shadow upon the earth.

In the course of his reply Senator Douglas remarked in substance
that he had always considered this government was made for the
white people and not for the negroes. Why, in point of mere
fact, I think so too. But in this remark of the Judge there is a
significance which I think is the key to the great mistake (if
there is any such mistake) which he has made in this Nebraska
measure. It shows that the Judge has no very vivid impression
that the negro is human, and consequently has no idea that there
can be any moral question in legislating about him. In his view
the question of whether a new country shall be slave or free is a
matter of as utter indifference as it is whether his neighbor
shall plant his farm with tobacco or stock it with horned cattle.
Now, whether this view is right or wrong, it is very certain that
the great mass of mankind take a totally different view. They
consider slavery a great moral wrong, and their feeling against
it is not evanescent, but eternal. It lies at the very
foundation of their sense of justice, and it cannot be trifled
with. It is a great and durable element of popular action, and I
think no statesman can safely disregard it.

Our Senator also objects that those who oppose him in this matter
do not entirely agree with one another. He reminds me that in my
firm adherence to the constitutional rights of the slave States I
differ widely from others who are cooperating with me in opposing
the Nebraska Bill, and he says it is not quite fair to oppose him
in this variety of ways. He should remember that he took us by
surprise–astounded us by this measure. We were thunderstruck
and stunned, and we reeled and fell in utter confusion. But we
rose, each fighting, grasping whatever he could first reach–a
scythe, a pitchfork, a chopping-ax, or a butcher’s cleaver. We
struck in the direction of the sound, and we were rapidly closing
upon him. He must not think to divert us from our purpose by
showing us that our drill, our dress, and our weapons are not
entirely perfect and uniform. When the storm shall be past he
shall find us still Americans, no less devoted to the continued
union and prosperity of the country than heretofore.

Finally, the Judge invokes against me the memory of Clay and
Webster, They were great men, and men of great deeds. But where
have I assailed them? For what is it that their lifelong enemy
shall now make profit by assuming to defend them against me,
their lifelong friend? I go against the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise; did they ever go for it? They went for the
Compromise of 1850; did I ever go against them? They were
greatly devoted to the Union; to the small measure of my ability
was I ever less so? Clay and Webster were dead before this
question arose; by what authority shall our Senator say they
would espouse his side of it if alive? Mr. Clay was the leading
spirit in making the Missouri Compromise; is it very credible
that if now alive he would take the lead in the breaking of it?
The truth is that some support from Whigs is now a necessity with
the Judge, and for this it is that the names of Clay and Webster
are invoked. His old friends have deserted him in such numbers
as to leave too few to live by. He came to his own, and his own
received him not; and lo! he turns unto the Gentiles.

A word now as to the Judge’s desperate assumption that the
compromises of 1850 had no connection with one another; that
Illinois came into the Union as a slave State, and some other
similar ones. This is no other than a bold denial of the history
of the country. If we do not know that the compromises of 1850
were dependent on each other; if we do not know that Illinois
came into the Union as a free State,–we do not know anything.
If we do not know these things, we do not know that we ever had a
Revolutionary War or such a chief as Washington. To deny these
things is to deny our national axioms,–or dogmas, at least,–and
it puts an end to all argument. If a man will stand up and
assert, and repeat and reassert, that two and two do not make
four, I know nothing in the power of argument that can stop him.
I think I can answer the Judge so long as he sticks to the
premises; but when he flies from them, I cannot work any argument
into the consistency of a mental gag and actually close his mouth
with it. In such a case I can only commend him to the seventy
thousand answers just in from Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana.



CLINTON, De WITT Co., Nov. 10, 1854

DEAR SIR:–You used to express a good deal of partiality for me,
and if you are still so, now is the time. Some friends here are
really for me for the U.S. Senate, and I should be very grateful
if you could make a mark for me among your members. Please write
me at all events, giving me the names, post-offices, and
“political position” of members round about you. Direct to

Let this be confidential.

Yours truly,




November 27, 1854


MY DEAR SIR:–It has come round that a whig may, by possibility,
be elected to the United States Senate, and I want the chance of
being the man. You are a member of the Legislature, and have a
vote to give. Think it over, and see whether you can do better
than to go for me.

Write me, at all events; and let this be confidential.

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, Dec. 1, 1854.

DEAR SIR:–I have really got it into my head to try to be United
States Senator, and, if I could have your support, my chances
would be reasonably good. But I know, and acknowledge, that you
have as just claims to the place as I have; and therefore I
cannot ask you to yield to me, if you are thinking of becoming a
candidate, yourself. If, however, you are not, then I should
like to be remembered affectionately by you; and also to have you
make a mark for me with the Anti-Nebraska members down your way.

If you know, and have no objection to tell, let me know whether
Trumbull intends to make a push. If he does, I suppose the two
men in St. Clair, and one, or both, in Madison, will be for him.
We have the Legislature, clearly enough, on joint ballot, but the
Senate is very close, and Cullom told me to-day that the Nebraska
men will stave off the election, if they can. Even if we get
into joint vote, we shall have difficulty to unite our forces.
Please write me, and let this be confidential.

Your friend, as ever,




SPRINGFIELD, ILL., December 6, 1854.

SIR:–I understand it is in contemplation to displace the present
clerk and appoint a new one for the Circuit and District Courts
of Illinois. I am very friendly to the present incumbent, and,
both for his own sake and that of his family, I wish him to be
retained so long as it is possible for the court to do so.

In the contingency of his removal, however, I have recommended
William Butler as his successor, and I do not wish what I write
now to be taken as any abatement of that recommendation.

William J. Black is also an applicant for the appointment, and I
write this at the solicitation of his friends to say that he is
every way worthy of the office, and that I doubt not the
conferring it upon him will give great satisfaction.

Your ob’t servant,



SPRINGFIELD, December 15. 1854


DEAR SIR:–Yours of the 11th was received last night, and for
which I thank you. Of course I prefer myself to all others; yet
it is neither in my heart nor my conscience to say I am any
better man than Mr. Williams. We shall have a terrible struggle
with our adversaries. They are desperate and bent on desperate
deeds. I accidentally learned of one of the leaders here writing
to a member south of here, in about the following language:

We are beaten. They have a clean majority of at least nine, on
joint ballot. They outnumber us, but we must outmanage them.
Douglas must be sustained. We must elect the Speaker; and we
must elect a Nebraska United States Senator, or elect none at
all.” Similar letters, no doubt, are written to every Nebraska
member. Be considering how we can best meet, and foil, and beat
them. I send you, by mail, a copy of my Peoria speech. You may
have seen it before, or you may not think it worth seeing now.

Do not speak of the Nebraska letter mentioned above; I do not
wish it to become public, that I received such information.

Yours truly,





SPRINGFIELD, February 9, 1855


I began with 44 votes, Shields 41, and Trumbull 5,–yet Trumbull
was elected. In fact 47 different members voted for me,–getting
three new ones on the second ballot, and losing four old ones.
How came my 47 to yield to Trumbull’s 5? It was Governor
Matteson’s work. He has been secretly a candidate ever since
(before, even) the fall election.

All the members round about the canal were Anti-Nebraska, but
were nevertheless nearly all Democrats and old personal friends
of his. His plan was to privately impress them with the belief
that he was as good Anti-Nebraska as any one else–at least could
be secured to be so by instructions, which could be easily

The Nebraska men, of course, were not for Matteson; but when they
found they could elect no avowed Nebraska man, they tardily
determined to let him get whomever of our men he could, by
whatever means he could, and ask him no questions.

The Nebraska men were very confident of the election of Matteson,
though denying that he was a candidate, and we very much
believing also that they would elect him. But they wanted first
to make a show of good faith to Shields by voting for him a few
times, and our secret Matteson men also wanted to make a show of
good faith by voting with us a few times. So we led off. On the
seventh ballot, I think, the signal was given to the Nebraska men
to turn to Matteson, which they acted on to a man, with one
exception. . . Next ballot the remaining Nebraska man and one
pretended Anti went over to him, giving him 46. The next still
another, giving him 47, wanting only three of an election. In
the meantime our friends, with a view of detaining our expected
bolters, had been turning from me to Trumbull till he had risen
to 35 and I had been reduced to 15. These would never desert me
except by my direction; but I became satisfied that if we could
prevent Matteson’s election one or two ballots more, we could not
possibly do so a single ballot after my friends should begin to
return to me from Trumbull. So I determined to strike at once,
and accordingly advised my remaining friends to go for him, which
they did and elected him on the tenth ballot.

Such is the way the thing was done. I think you would have done
the same under the circumstances.

I could have headed off every combination and been elected, had
it not been for Matteson’s double game–and his defeat now gives
me more pleasure than my own gives me pain. On the whole, it is
perhaps as well for our general cause that Trumbull is elected.
The Nebraska men confess that they hate it worse than anything
that could have happened. It is a great consolation to see them
worse whipped than I am.

Yours forever,





GENTLEMEN:–Yours of the 5th is received, as also was that of
15th Dec, last, inclosing bond of Clift to Pray. When I received
the bond I was dabbling in politics, and of course neglecting
business. Having since been beaten out I have gone to work

As I do not practice in Rushville, I to-day open a correspondence
with Henry E. Dummer, Esq., of Beardstown, Ill., with the view
of getting the job into his hands. He is a good man if he will
undertake it.

Write me whether I shall do this or return the bond to you.

Yours respectfully,



SPRINGFIELD, March 23, 1855.


MY DEAR SIR:–Your letter to Judge Logan has been shown to us by
him; and, with his consent, we answer it. When it became
probable that there would be a vacancy on the Supreme Bench,
public opinion, on this side of the river, seemed to be
universally directed to Logan as the proper man to fill it. I
mean public opinion on our side in politics, with very small
manifestation in any different direction by the other side. The
result is, that he has been a good deal pressed to allow his name
to be used, and he has consented to it, provided it can be done
with perfect cordiality and good feeling on the part of all our
own friends. We, the undersigned, are very anxious for it; and
the more so now that he has been urged, until his mind is turned
upon the matter. We, therefore are very glad of your letter,
with the information it brings us, mixed only with a regret that
we can not elect Logan and Walker both. We shall be glad, if you
will hoist Logan’s name, in your Quincy papers.

Very truly your friends,



SPRINGFIELD, June 7, 1855.


MY DEAR SIR:–Your note containing election news is received; and
for which I thank you. It is all of no use, however. Logan is
worse beaten than any other man ever was since elections were
invented–beaten more than twelve hundred in this county. It is
conceded on all hands that the Prohibitory law is also beaten.

Yours truly,




SPRINGFIELD, August 24, 1855

DEAR SPEED:–You know what a poor correspondent I am. Ever since
I received your very agreeable letter of the 22d of May, I have
been intending to write you an answer to it. You suggest that in
political action, now, you and I would differ. I suppose we
would; not quite as much, however, as you may think. You know I
dislike slavery, and you fully admit the abstract wrong of it.
So far there is no cause of difference. But you say that sooner
than yield your legal right to the slave, especially at the
bidding of those who are not themselves interested, you would see
the Union dissolved. I am not aware that any one is bidding you
yield that right; very certainly I am not. I leave that matter
entirely to yourself. 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 unrequited toil; but I bite
my lips and keep quiet. In 1841 you and I had together a tedious
low-water trip on a steamboat from Louisville to St. Louis. You
may remember, as I well do, that 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 continued torment to me,
and I see something like it every time I touch the Ohio or any
other slave border. It is not 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. I do oppose the extension of slavery because my
judgment and feeling so prompt me, and I am under no obligations
to the contrary. If for this you and I must differ, differ we
must. You say, if you were President, you would send an army and
hang the leaders of the Missouri outrages upon the Kansas
elections; still, if Kansas fairly votes herself a slave State
she must be admitted or the Union must be dissolved. But how if
she votes herself a slave State unfairly, that is, by the very
means for which you say you would hang men? Must she still be
admitted, or the Union dissolved? That will be the phase of the
question when it first becomes a practical one. In your
assumption that there may be a fair decision of the slavery
question in Kansas, I plainly see you and I would differ about
the Nebraska law. I look upon that enactment not as a law, but
as a violence from the beginning. It was conceived in violence,
is maintained in violence, and is being executed in violence. I
say it was conceived in violence, because the destruction of the
Missouri Compromise, under the circumstances, was nothing less
than violence. It was passed in violence because it could not
have passed at all but for the votes of many members in violence
of the known will of their constituents. It is maintained in
violence, because the elections since clearly demand its repeal;
and the demand is openly disregarded.

You say men ought to be hung for the way they are executing the
law; I say the way it is being executed is quite as good as any
of its antecedents. It is being executed in the precise way
which was intended from the first, else why does no Nebraska man
express astonishment or condemnation? Poor Reeder is the only
public man who has been silly enough to believe that anything
like fairness was ever intended, and he has been bravely

That Kansas will form a slave constitution, and with it will ask
to be admitted into the Union, I take to be already a settled
question, and so settled by the very means you so pointedly
condemn. By every principle of law ever held by any court North
or South, every negro taken to Kansas is free; yet, in utter
disregard of this,–in the spirit of violence merely,–that
beautiful Legislature gravely passes a law to hang any man who
shall venture to inform a negro of his legal rights. This is the
subject and real object of the law. If, like Haman, they should
hang upon the gallows of their own building, I shall not be among
the mourners for their fate. In my humble sphere, I shall
advocate the restoration of the Missouri Compromise so long as
Kansas remains a Territory, and when, by all these foul means, it
seeks to come into the Union as a slave State, I shall oppose it.
I am very loath in any case to withhold my assent to the
enjoyment of property acquired or located in good faith; but I do
not admit that good faith in taking a negro to Kansas to be held
in slavery is a probability with any man. Any man who has sense
enough to be the controller of his own property has too much
sense to misunderstand the outrageous character of the whole
Nebraska business. But I digress. In my opposition to the
admission of Kansas I shall have some company, but we may be
beaten. If we are, I shall not on that account attempt to
dissolve the Union. I think it probable, however, we shall be
beaten. Standing as a unit among yourselves, You can, directly
and indirectly, bribe enough of our men to carry the day, as you
could on the open proposition to establish a monarchy. Get hold
of some man in the North whose position and ability is such that
he can make the support of your measure, whatever it may be, a
Democratic party necessity, and the thing is done. Apropos of
this, let me tell you an anecdote. Douglas introduced the
Nebraska Bill in January. In February afterward there was a
called session of the Illinois Legislature. Of the one hundred
members composing the two branches of that body, about seventy
were Democrats. These latter held a caucus in which the Nebraska
Bill was talked of, if not formally discussed. It was thereby
discovered that just three, and no more, were in favor of the
measure. In a day or two Douglas’s orders came on to have
resolutions passed approving the bill; and they were passed by
large majorities!!!! The truth of this is vouched for by a
bolting Democratic member. The masses, too, Democratic as well
as Whig, were even nearer unanimous against it; but, as soon as
the party necessity of supporting it became apparent, the way the
Democrats began to see the wisdom and justice of it was perfectly

You say that if Kansas fairly votes herself a free State, as a
Christian you will rejoice at it. All decent slaveholders talk
that way, and I do not doubt their candor. But they never vote
that way. Although in a private letter or conversation you will
express your preference that Kansas shall be free, you would vote
for no man for Congress who would say the same thing publicly.
No such man could be elected from any district in a slave State.
You think Stringfellow and company ought to be hung; and yet at
the next Presidential election you will vote for the exact type
and representative of Stringfellow. The slave-breeders and
slave-traders are a small, odious, and detested class among you;
and yet in politics they dictate the course of all of you, and
are as completely your masters as you are the master of your own
negroes. You inquire where I now stand. That is a disputed
point. I think I am a Whig; but others say there are no Whigs,
and that I am an Abolitionist. When I was at Washington, I voted
for the Wilmot Proviso as good as forty times; and I never heard
of any one attempting to un-Whig me for that. I now do no more
than oppose the extension of slavery. 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 of 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 shall 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.

Mary will probably pass a day or two in Louisville in October.
My kindest regards to Mrs. Speed. On the leading subject of
this letter I have more of her sympathy than I have of yours; and
yet let me say I am,

Your friend forever,





SPRINGFIELD, February 13, 1856.


Says Tom to John, “Here’s your old rotten wheelbarrow. I’ve
broke it usin’ on it. I wish you would mend it, ‘case I shall
want to borrow it this arternoon.” Acting on this as a
precedent, I say, “Here’s your old ‘chalked hat,–I wish you
would take it and send me a new one, ‘case I shall want to use it
the first of March.”

Yours truly,


(A ‘chalked hat’ was the common term, at that time, for a
railroad pass.)



[From the Report by William C. Whitney.]

(Mr. Whitney’s notes were made at the time, but not written out
until 1896. He does not claim that the speech, as here reported,
is literally correct only that he has followed the argument, and
that in many cases the sentences are as Mr. Lincoln spoke them.)

Mr. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN: I was over at [Cries of “Platform!”
“Take the platform!”]–I say, that while I was at Danville Court,
some of our friends of Anti-Nebraska got together in Springfield
and elected me as one delegate to represent old Sangamon with
them in this convention, and I am here certainly as a sympathizer
in this movement and by virtue of that meeting and selection.
But we can hardly be called delegates strictly, inasmuch as,
properly speaking, we represent nobody but ourselves. I think it
altogether fair to say that we have no Anti-Nebraska party in
Sangamon, although there is a good deal of Anti-Nebraska feeling
there; but I say for myself, and I think I may speak also for my
colleagues, that we who are here fully approve of the platform
and of all that has been done [A voice, “Yes!,”], and even if we
are not regularly delegates, it will be right for me to answer
your call to speak. I suppose we truly stand for the public
sentiment of Sangamon on the great question of the repeal,
although we do not yet represent many numbers who have taken a
distinct position on the question.

We are in a trying time–it ranges above mere party–and this
movement to call a halt and turn our steps backward needs all the
help and good counsels it can get; for unless popular opinion
makes itself very strongly felt, and a change is made in our
present course, blood will flow on account of Nebraska, and
brother’s hands will be raised against brother!

[The last sentence was uttered in such an earnest, impressive, if
not, indeed, tragic, manner, as to make a cold chill creep over
me. Others gave a similar experience.]

I have listened with great interest to the earnest appeal made to
Illinois men by the gentleman from Lawrence [James S. Emery] who
has just addressed us so eloquently and forcibly. I was deeply
moved by his statement of the wrongs done to free-State men out
there. I think it just to say that all true men North should
sympathize with them, and ought to be willing to do any possible
and needful thing to right their wrongs. But we must not promise
what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we
cannot; we must be calm and moderate, and consider the whole
difficulty, and determine what is possible and just. We must not
be led by excitement and passion to do that which our sober
judgments would not approve in our cooler moments. We have
higher aims; we will have more serious business than to dally
with temporary measures.

We are here to stand firmly for a principle–to stand firmly for
a right. We know that great political and moral wrongs are done,
and outrages committed, and we denounce those wrongs and
outrages, although we cannot, at present, do much more. But we
desire to reach out beyond those personal outrages and establish
a rule that will apply to all, and so prevent any future

We have seen to-day that every shade of popular opinion is
represented here, with Freedom, or rather Free Soil, as the
basis. We have come together as in some sort representatives of
popular opinion against the extension of slavery into territory
now free in fact as well as by law, and the pledged word of the
statesmen of the nation who are now no more. We come–we are
here assembled together–to protest as well as we can against a
great wrong, and to take measures, as well as we now can, to make
that wrong right; to place the nation, as far as it may be
possible now, as it was before the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise; and the plain way to do this is to restore the
Compromise, and to demand and determine that Kansas shall be
free! [Immense applause.] While we affirm, and reaffirm, if
necessary, our devotion to the principles of the Declaration of
Independence, let our practical work here be limited to the
above. We know that there is not a perfect agreement of
sentiment here on the public questions which might be rightfully
considered in this convention, and that the indignation which we
all must feel cannot be helped; but all of us must give up
something for the good of the cause. There is one desire which
is uppermost in the mind, one wish common to us all, to which no
dissent will be made; and I counsel you earnestly to bury all
resentment, to sink all personal feeling, make all things work to
a common purpose in which we are united and agreed about, and
which all present will agree is absolutely necessary–which must
be done by any rightful mode if there be such:
Slavery must be kept out of Kansas! [Applause.] The test–the
pinch–is right there. If we lose Kansas to freedom, an example
will be set which will prove fatal to freedom in the end. We,
therefore, in the language of the Bible, must “lay the axe to the
root of the tree.” Temporizing will not do longer; now is the
time for decision–for firm, persistent, resolute action.

The Nebraska Bill, or rather Nebraska law, is not one of
wholesome legislation, but was and is an act of legislative
usurpation, whose result, if not indeed intention, is to make
slavery national; and unless headed off in some effective way, we
are in a fair way to see this land of boasted freedom converted
into a land of slavery in fact. [Sensation.] Just open your two
eyes, and see if this be not so. I need do no more than state,
to command universal approval, that almost the entire North, as
well as a large following in the border States, is radically
opposed to the planting of slavery in free territory. Probably
in a popular vote throughout the nation nine tenths of the voters
in the free States, and at least one-half in the border States,
if they could express their sentiments freely, would vote NO on
such an issue; and it is safe to say that two thirds of the votes
of the entire nation would be opposed to it. And yet, in spite
of this overbalancing of sentiment in this free country, we are
in a fair way to see Kansas present itself for admission as a
slave State. Indeed, it is a felony, by the local law of Kansas,
to deny that slavery exists there even now. By every principle
of law, a negro in Kansas is free; yet the bogus Legislature
makes it an infamous crime to tell him that he is free!

Statutes of Kansas, 1555, chapter 151, Sec. 12: If any free
person, by speaking or by writing, assert or maintain that
persons have not the right to hold slaves in this Territory, or
shall introduce into this Territory, print, publish, write,
circulate . . . any book, paper, magazine, pamphlet, or
circular containing any denial of the right of persons to hold
slaves in this Territory such person shall be deemed guilty of
felony, and punished by imprisonment at hard labor for a term of
not less than two years.
Sec. 13. No person who is conscientiously opposed to holding
slaves, or who does not admit the right to hold slaves in this
Territory, shall sit as a juror on the trial of any prosecution
for any violation of any Sections of this Act.

The party lash and the fear of ridicule will overawe justice and
liberty; for it is a singular fact, but none the less a fact, and
well known by the most common experience, that men will do things
under the terror of the party lash that they would not on any
account or for any consideration do otherwise; while men who will
march up to the mouth of a loaded cannon without shrinking will
run from the terrible name of “Abolitionist,” even when
pronounced by a worthless creature whom they, with good reason,
despise. For instance–to press this point a little–Judge
Douglas introduced his Nebraska Bill in January; and we had an
extra session of our Legislature in the succeeding February, in
which were seventy-five Democrats; and at a party caucus, fully
attended, there were just three votes, out of the whole seventy-
five, for the measure. But in a few days orders came on from
Washington, commanding them to approve the measure; the party
lash was applied, and it was brought up again in caucus, and
passed by a large majority. The masses were against it, but
party necessity carried it; and it was passed through the lower
house of Congress against the will of the people, for the same
reason. Here is where the greatest danger lies that, while we
profess to be a government of law and reason, law will give way
to violence on demand of this awful and crushing power. Like the
great Juggernaut–I think that is the name–the great idol, it
crushes everything that comes in its way, and makes a [?]–or, as
I read once, in a blackletter law book, “a slave is a human being
who is legally not a person but a thing.” And if the safeguards
to liberty are broken down, as is now attempted, when they have
made things of all the free negroes, how long, think you, before
they will begin to make things of poor white men? [Applause.] Be
not deceived. Revolutions do not go backward. The founder of
the Democratic party declared that all men were created equal.
His successor in the leadership has written the word “white”
before men, making it read “all white men are created equal.”
Pray, will or may not the Know-Nothings, if they should get in
power, add the word “Protestant,” making it read “all Protestant
white men…?”

Meanwhile the hapless negro is the fruitful subject of reprisals
in other quarters. John Pettit, whom Tom Benton paid his
respects to, you will recollect, calls the immortal Declaration
“a self-evident lie”; while at the birthplace of freedom–in the
shadow of Bunker Hill and of the “cradle of liberty,” at the home
of the Adamses and Warren and Otis–Choate, from our side of the
house, dares to fritter away the birthday promise of liberty by
proclaiming the Declaration to be “a string of glittering
generalities”; and the Southern Whigs, working hand in hand with
proslavery Democrats, are making Choate’s theories practical.
Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder, mindful of the moral element in
slavery, solemnly declared that he trembled for his country when
he remembered that God is just; while Judge Douglas, with an
insignificant wave of the hand, “don’t care whether slavery is
voted up or voted down.” Now, if slavery is right, or even
negative, he has a right to treat it in this trifling manner.
But if it is a moral and political wrong, as all Christendom
considers it to be, how can he answer to God for this attempt to
spread and fortify it? [Applause.]

But no man, and Judge Douglas no more than any other, can
maintain a negative, or merely neutral, position on this
question; and, accordingly, he avows that the Union was made by
white men and for white men and their descendants. As matter of
fact, the first branch of the proposition is historically true;
the government was made by white men, and they were and are the
superior race. This I admit. But the corner-stone of the
government, so to speak, was the declaration that “all men are
created equal,” and all entitled to “life, liberty, and the
pursuit of happiness.” [Applause.]

And not only so, but the framers of the Constitution were
particular to keep out of that instrument the word “slave,” the
reason being that slavery would ultimately come to an end, and
they did not wish to have any reminder that in this free country
human beings were ever prostituted to slavery. [Applause.] Nor
is it any argument that we are superior and the negro inferior–
that he has but one talent while we have ten. Let the negro
possess the little he has in independence; if he has but one
talent, he should be permitted to keep the little he has.
[Applause:] But slavery will endure no test of reason or logic;
and yet its advocates, like Douglas, use a sort of bastard logic,
or noisy assumption it might better be termed, like the above, in
order to prepare the mind for the gradual, but none the less
certain, encroachments of the Moloch of slavery upon the fair
domain of freedom. But however much you may argue upon it, or
smother it in soft phrase, slavery can only be maintained by
force–by violence. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise was by
violence. It was a violation of both law and the sacred
obligations of honor, to overthrow and trample under foot a
solemn compromise, obtained by the fearful loss to freedom of one
of the fairest of our Western domains. Congress violated the
will and confidence of its constituents in voting for the bill;
and while public sentiment, as shown by the elections of 1854,
demanded the restoration of this compromise, Congress violated
its trust by refusing simply because it had the force of numbers
to hold on to it. And murderous violence is being used now, in
order to force slavery on to Kansas; for it cannot be done in any
other way. [Sensation.]

The necessary result was to establish the rule of violence–
force, instead of the rule of law and reason; to perpetuate and
spread slavery, and in time to make it general. We see it at
both ends of the line. In Washington, on the very spot where the
outrage was started, the fearless Sumner is beaten to
insensibility, and is now slowly dying; while senators who claim
to be gentlemen and Christians stood by, countenancing the act,
and even applauding it afterward in their places in the Senate.
Even Douglas, our man, saw it all and was within helping
distance, yet let the murderous blows fall unopposed. Then, at
the other end of the line, at the very time Sumner was being
murdered, Lawrence was being destroyed for the crime of freedom.
It was the most prominent stronghold of liberty in Kansas, and
must give way to the all-dominating power of slavery. Only two
days ago, Judge Trumbull found it necessary to propose a bill in
the Senate to prevent a general civil war and to restore peace in

We live in the midst of alarms; anxiety beclouds the future; we
expect some new disaster with each newspaper we read. Are we in
a healthful political state? Are not the tendencies plain? Do
not the signs of the times point plainly the way in which we are
going? [Sensation.]

In the early days of the Constitution slavery was recognized, by
South and North alike, as an evil, and the division of sentiment
about it was not controlled by geographical lines or
considerations of climate, but by moral and philanthropic views.
Petitions for the abolition of slavery were presented to the very
first Congress by Virginia and Massachusetts alike. To show the
harmony which prevailed, I will state that a fugitive slave law
was passed in 1793, with no dissenting voice in the Senate, and
but seven dissenting votes in the House. It was, however, a wise
law, moderate, and, under the Constitution, a just one. Twenty-
five years later, a more stringent law was proposed and defeated;
and thirty-five years after that, the present law, drafted by
Mason of Virginia, was passed by Northern votes. I am not, just
now, complaining of this law, but I am trying to show how the
current sets; for the proposed law of 1817 was far less offensive
than the present one. In 1774 the Continental Congress pledged
itself, without a dissenting vote, to wholly discontinue the
slave trade, and to neither purchase nor import any slave; and
less than three months before the passage of the Declaration of
Independence, the same Congress which adopted that declaration
unanimously resolved “that no slave be imported into any of the
thirteen United Colonies.” [Great applause.]

On the second day of July, 1776, the draft of a Declaration of
Independence was reported to Congress by the committee, and in it
the slave trade was characterized as “an execrable commerce,” as
“a piratical warfare,” as the “opprobrium of infidel powers,” and
as “a cruel war against human nature. [Applause.] All agreed on
this except South Carolina and Georgia, and in order to preserve
harmony, and from the necessity of the case, these expressions
were omitted. Indeed, abolition societies existed as far south
as Virginia; and it is a well-known fact that Washington,
Jefferson, Madison, Lee, Henry, Mason, and Pendleton were
qualified abolitionists, and much more radical on that subject
than we of the Whig and Democratic parties claim to be to-day.
On March 1, 1784, Virginia ceded to the confederation all its
lands lying northwest of the Ohio River. Jefferson, Chase of
Maryland, and Howell of Rhode Island, as a committee on that and
territory thereafter to be ceded, reported that no slavery should
exist after the year 1800. Had this report been adopted, not
only the Northwest, but Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and
Mississippi also would have been free; but it required the assent
of nine States to ratify it. North Carolina was divided, and
thus its vote was lost; and Delaware, Georgia, and New Jersey
refused to vote. In point of fact, as it was, it was assented to
by six States. Three years later on a square vote to exclude
slavery from the Northwest, only one vote, and that from New
York, was against it. And yet, thirty-seven years later, five
thousand citizens of Illinois, out of a voting mass of less than
twelve thousand, deliberately, after a long and heated contest,
voted to introduce slavery in Illinois; and, to-day, a large
party in the free State of Illinois are willing to vote to fasten
the shackles of slavery on the fair domain of Kansas,
notwithstanding it received the dowry of freedom long before its
birth as a political community. I repeat, therefore, the
question: Is it not plain in what direction we are tending?
[Sensation.] In the colonial time, Mason, Pendleton, and
Jefferson were as hostile to slavery in Virginia as Otis, Ames,
and the Adamses were in Massachusetts; and Virginia made as
earnest an effort to get rid of it as old Massachusetts did. But
circumstances were against them and they failed; but not that the
good will of its leading men was lacking. Yet within less than
fifty years Virginia changed its tune, and made negro-breeding
for the cotton and sugar States one of its leading industries.
[Laughter and applause.]

In the Constitutional Convention, George Mason of Virginia made a
more violent abolition speech than my friends Lovejoy or Codding
would desire to make here to-day–a speech which could not be
safely repeated anywhere on Southern soil in this enlightened
year. But, while there were some differences of opinion on this
subject even then, discussion was allowed; but as you see by the
Kansas slave code, which, as you know, is the Missouri slave
code, merely ferried across the river, it is a felony to even
express an opinion hostile to that foul blot in the land of
Washington and the Declaration of Independence. [Sensation.]

In Kentucky–my State–in 1849, on a test vote, the mighty
influence of Henry Clay and many other good then there could not
get a symptom of expression in favor of gradual emancipation on a
plain issue of marching toward the light of civilization with
Ohio and Illinois; but the State of Boone and Hardin and Henry
Clay, with a nigger under each arm, took the black trail toward
the deadly swamps of barbarism. Is there–can there be–any
doubt about this thing? And is there any doubt that we must all
lay aside our prejudices and march, shoulder to shoulder, in the
great army of Freedom? [Applause.]

Every Fourth of July our young orators all proclaim this to be
“the land of the free and the home of the brave!” Well, now, when
you orators get that off next year, and, may be, this very year,
how would you like some old grizzled farmer to get up in the
grove and deny it? [Laughter.] How would you like that? But
suppose Kansas comes in as a slave State, and all the “border
ruffians” have barbecues about it, and free-State men come
trailing back to the dishonored North, like whipped dogs with
their tails between their legs, it is–ain’t it ?–evident that
this is no more the “land of the free”; and if we let it go so,
we won’t dare to say “home of the brave” out loud. [Sensation
and confusion.]

Can any man doubt that, even in spite of the people’s will,
slavery will triumph through violence, unless that will be made
manifest and enforced? Even Governor Reeder claimed at the
outset that the contest in Kansas was to be fair, but he got his
eyes open at last; and I believe that, as a result of this moral
and physical violence, Kansas will soon apply for admission as a
slave State. And yet we can’t mistake that the people don’t want
it so, and that it is a land which is free both by natural and
political law. No law, is free law! Such is the understanding of
all Christendom. In the Somerset case, decided nearly a century
ago, the great Lord Mansfield held that slavery was of such a
nature that it must take its rise in positive (as distinguished
from natural) law; and that in no country or age could it be
traced back to any other source. Will some one please tell me
where is the positive law that establishes slavery in Kansas? [A
voice: “The bogus laws.”] Aye, the bogus laws! And, on the same
principle, a gang of Missouri horse-thieves could come into
Illinois and declare horse-stealing to be legal [Laughter], and
it would be just as legal as slavery is in Kansas. But by
express statute, in the land of Washington and Jefferson, we may
soon be brought face to face with the discreditable fact of
showing to the world by our acts that we prefer slavery to
freedom–darkness to light! [Sensation.]

It is, I believe, a principle in law that when one party to a
contract violates it so grossly as to chiefly destroy the object
for which it is made, the other party may rescind it. I will ask
Browning if that ain’t good law. [Voices: Yes!”] Well, now if
that be right, I go for rescinding the whole, entire Missouri
Compromise and thus turning Missouri into a free State; and I
should like to know the difference–should like for any one to
point out the difference–between our making a free State of
Missouri and their making a slave State of Kansas. [Great
applause.] There ain’t one bit of difference, except that our way
would be a great mercy to humanity. But I have never said, and
the Whig party has never said, and those who oppose the Nebraska
Bill do not as a body say, that they have any intention of
interfering with slavery in the slave States. Our platform says
just the contrary. We allow slavery to exist in the slave
States, not because slavery is right or good, but from the
necessities of our Union. We grant a fugitive slave law because
it is so “nominated in the bond”; because our fathers so
stipu1ated–had to–and we are bound to carry out this agreement.
But they did not agree to introduce slavery in regions where it
did not previously exist. On the contrary, they said by their
example and teachings that they did not deem it expedient–did
n’t consider it right–to do so; and it is wise and
right to do just as they did about it. [Voices: “Good!”] And
that it what we propose–not to interfere with slavery where it
exists (we have never tried to do it), and to give them a
reasonable and efficient fugitive slave law. [A voice: “No!”] I
say YES! [Applause.] It was part of the bargain, and I ‘m for
living up to it; but I go no further; I’m not bound to do more,
and I won’t agree any further. [Great applause.]

We, here in Illinois, should feel especially proud of the
provision of the Missouri Compromise excluding slavery from what
is now Kansas; for an Illinois man, Jesse B. Thomas, was its
father. Henry Clay, who is credited with the authorship of the
Compromise in general terms, did not even vote for that
provision, but only advocated the ultimate admission by a second
compromise; and Thomas was, beyond all controversy, the real
author of the “slavery restriction” branch of the Compromise. To
show the generosity of the Northern members toward the Southern
side: on a test vote to exclude slavery from Missouri, ninety
voted not to exclude, and eighty-seven to exclude, every vote
from the slave States being ranged with the former and fourteen
votes from the free States, of whom seven were from New England
alone; while on a vote to exclude slavery from what is now
Kansas, the vote was one hundred and thirty-four for, to forty-
two against. The scheme, as a whole, was, of course, a Southern
triumph. It is idle to contend otherwise, as is now being done
by the Nebraskites; it was so shown by the votes and quite as
emphatically by the expressions of representative men. Mr.
Lowndes of South Carolina was never known to commit a political
mistake; his was the great judgment of that section; and he
declared that this measure “would restore tranquillity to the
country–a result demanded by every consideration of discretion,
of moderation, of wisdom, and of virtue.” When the measure came
before President Monroe for his approval, he put to each member
of his cabinet this question: “Has Congress the constitutional
power to prohibit slavery in a Territory?” And John C. Calhoun
and William H. Crawford from the South, equally with John Quincy
Adams, Benjamin Rush, and Smith Thompson from the North, alike
answered, “Yes!” without qualification or equivocation; and this
measure, of so great consequence to the South, was passed; and
Missouri was, by means of it, finally enabled to knock at the
door of the Republic for an open passage to its brood of slaves.
And, in spite of this, Freedom’s share is about to be taken by
violence–by the force of misrepresentative votes, not called for
by the popular will. What name can I, in common decency, give to
this wicked transaction? [Sensation.]

But even then the contest was not over; for when the Missouri
constitution came before Congress for its approval, it forbade
any free negro or mulatto from entering the State. In short, our
Illinois “black 1aws” were hidden away in their constitution
[Laughter], and the controversy was thus revived. Then it was
that Mr. Clay’s talents shone out conspicuously, and the
controversy that shook the union to its foundation was finally
settled to the satisfaction of the conservative parties on both
sides of the line, though not to the extremists on either, and
Missouri was admitted by the small majority of six in the lower
House. How great a majority, do you think, would have been given
had Kansas also been secured for slavery? [A voice: “A majority
the other way.”] “A majority the other way,” is answered. Do you
think it would have been safe for a Northern man to have
confronted his constituents after having voted to consign both
Missouri and Kansas to hopeless slavery? And yet this man
Douglas, who misrepresents his constituents and who has exerted
his highest talents in that direction, will be carried in triumph
through the State and hailed with honor while applauding that
act. [Three groans for “Dug!”] And this shows whither we are
tending. This thing of slavery is more powerful than its
supporters–even than the high priests that minister at its
altar. It debauches even our greatest men. It gathers strength,
like a rolling snowball, by its own infamy. Monstrous crimes are
committed in its name by persons collectively which they would
not dare to commit as individuals. Its aggressions and
encroachments almost surpass belief. In a despotism, one might
not wonder to see slavery advance steadily and remorselessly into
new dominions; but is it not wonderful, is it not even alarming,
to see its steady advance in a land dedicated to the proposition
that “all men are created equal”? [Sensation.]

It yields nothing itself; it keeps all it has, and gets all it
can besides. It really came dangerously near securing Illinois
in 1824; it did get Missouri in 1821. The first proposition was
to admit what is now Arkansas and Missouri as one slave State.
But the territory was divided and Arkansas came in, without
serious question, as a slave State; and afterwards Missouri, not,
as a sort of equality, free, but also as a slave State. Then we
had Florida and Texas; and now Kansas is about to be forced into
the dismal procession. [Sensation.] And so it is wherever you
look. We have not forgotten–it is but six years since–how
dangerously near California came to being a slave State. Texas
is a slave State, and four other slave States may be carved from
its vast domain. And yet, in the year 1829, slavery was
abolished throughout that vast region by a royal decree of the
then sovereign of Mexico. Will you please tell me by what right
slavery exists in Texas to-day? By the same right as, and no
higher or greater than, slavery is seeking dominion in Kansas:
by political force–peaceful, if that will suffice; by the torch
(as in Kansas) and the bludgeon (as in the Senate chamber), if
required. And so history repeats itself; and even as slavery has
kept its course by craft, intimidation, and violence in the past,
so it will persist, in my judgment, until met and dominated by
the will of a people bent on its restriction.

We have, this very afternoon, heard bitter denunciations of
Brooks in Washington, and Titus, Stringfellow, Atchison, Jones,
and Shannon in Kansas–the battle-ground of slavery. I certainly
am not going to advocate or shield them; but they and their acts
are but the necessary outcome of the Nebraska law. We should
reserve our highest censure for the authors of the mischief, and
not for the catspaws which they use. I believe it was
Shakespeare who said, “Where the offence lies, there let the axe
fall”; and, in my opinion, this man Douglas and the Northern men
in Congress who advocate “Nebraska” are more guilty than a
thousand Joneses and Stringfellows, with all their murderous
practices, can be. [Applause.]

We have made a good beginning here to-day. As our Methodist
friends would say, “I feel it is good to be here.” While
extremists may find some fault with the moderation of our
platform, they should recollect that “the battle is not always to
the strong, nor the race to the swift.” In grave emergencies,
moderation is generally safer than radicalism; and as this
struggle is likely to be long and earnest, we must not, by our
action, repel any who are in sympathy with us in the main, but
rather win all that we can to our standard. We must not belittle
nor overlook the facts of our condition–that we are new and
comparatively weak, while our enemies are entrenched and
relatively strong. They have the administration and the
political power; and, right or wrong, at present they have the
numbers. Our friends who urge an appeal to arms with so much
force and eloquence should recollect that the government is
arrayed against us, and that the numbers are now arrayed against
us as well; or, to state it nearer to the truth, they are not yet
expressly and affirmatively for us; and we should repel friends
rather than gain them by anything savoring of revolutionary
methods. As it now stands, we must appeal to the sober sense and
patriotism of the people. We will make converts day by day; we
will grow strong by calmness and moderation; we will grow strong
by the violence and injustice of our adversaries. And, unless
truth be a mockery and justice a hollow lie, we will be in the
majority after a while, and then the revolution which we will
accomplish will be none the less radical from being the result of
pacific measures. The battle of freedom is to be fought out on
principle. Slavery is a violation of the eternal right. We have
temporized with it from the necessities of our condition; but as
sure as God reigns and school children read, THAT BLACK FOUL LIE
applause lasting some time.]

One of our greatest difficulties is, that men who know that
slavery is a detestable crime and ruinous to the nation are
compelled, by our peculiar condition and other circumstances, to
advocate it concretely, though damning it in the raw. Henry Clay
was a brilliant example of this tendency; others of our purest
statesmen are compelled to do so; and thus slavery secures actual
support from those who detest it at heart. Yet Henry Clay
perfected and forced through the compromise which secured to
slavery a great State as well as a political advantage. Not that
he hated slavery less, but that he loved the whole Union more.
As long as slavery profited by his great compromise, the hosts of
proslavery could not sufficiently cover him with praise; but now
that this compromise stands in their way-

“….they never mention him,
His name is never heard:
Their lips are now forbid to speak
That once familiar word.”

They have slaughtered one of his most cherished measures, and his
ghost would arise to rebuke them. [Great applause.]

Now, let us harmonize, my friends, and appeal to the moderation
and patriotism of the people: to the sober second thought; to the
awakened public conscience. The repeal of the sacred Missouri
Compromise has installed the weapons of violence: the bludgeon,
the incendiary torch, the death-dealing rifle, the bristling
cannon–the weapons of kingcraft, of the inquisition, of
ignorance, of barbarism, of oppression. We see its fruits in the
dying bed of the heroic Sumner; in the ruins of the “Free State”
hotel; in the smoking embers of the Herald of Freedom; in the
free-State Governor of Kansas chained to a stake on freedom’s
soil like a horse-thief, for the crime of freedom. [Applause.] We see it in Christian statesmen, and Christian newspapers, and
Christian pulpits applauding the cowardly act of a low bully, WHO
BLOW. [Sensation and applause.] We note our political
demoralization in the catch-words that are coming into such
common use; on the one hand, “freedom-shriekers,” and sometimes
“freedom-screechers” [Laughter], and, on the other hand, “border-
ruffians,” and that fully deserved. And the significance of
catch-words cannot pass unheeded, for they constitute a sign of
the times. Everything in this world “jibes” in with everything
else, and all the fruits of this Nebraska Bill are like the
poisoned source from which they come. I will not say that we may
not sooner or later be compelled to meet force by force; but the
time has not yet come, and, if we are true to ourselves, may
never come. Do not mistake that the ballot is stronger than the
bullet. Therefore let the legions of slavery use bullets; but
let us wait patiently till November and fire ballots at them in
return; and by that peaceful policy I believe we shall ultimately
win. [Applause.]

It was by that policy that here in Illinois the early fathers
fought the good fight and gained the victory. In 1824 the free
men of our State, led by Governor Coles (who was a native of
Maryland and President Madison’s private secretary), determined
that those beautiful groves should never re-echo the dirge of one
who has no title to himself. By their resolute determination,
the winds that sweep across our broad prairies shall never cool
the parched brow, nor shall the unfettered streams that bring joy
and gladness to our free soil water the tired feet, of a slave;
but so long as those heavenly breezes and sparkling streams bless
the land, or the groves and their fragrance or memory remain, the
humanity to which they minister SHALL BE FOREVER FREE! [Great
applause] Palmer, Yates, Williams, Browning, and some more in
this convention came from Kentucky to Illinois (instead of going
to Missouri), not only to better their conditions, but also to
get away from slavery. They have said so to me, and it is
understood among us Kentuckians that we don’t like it one bit.
Now, can we, mindful of the blessings of liberty which the early
men of Illinois left to us, refuse a like privilege to the free
men who seek to plant Freedom’s banner on our Western outposts?
[“No!” “No!”] Should we not stand by our neighbors who seek to
better their conditions in Kansas and Nebraska? [“Yes!” “Yes!”] Can we as Christian men, and strong and free ourselves, wield the
sledge or hold the iron which is to manacle anew an already
oppressed race? [“No!” “No!”] “Woe unto them,” it is written,
“that decree unrighteous decrees and that write grievousness
which they have prescribed.” Can we afford to sin any more deeply
against human liberty? [“No!” “No!”]

One great trouble in the matter is, that slavery is an insidious
and crafty power, and gains equally by open violence of the
brutal as well as by sly management of the peaceful. Even after
the Ordinance of 1787, the settlers in Indiana and Illinois (it
was all one government then) tried to get Congress to allow
slavery temporarily, and petitions to that end were sent from
Kaskaskia, and General Harrison, the Governor, urged it from
Vincennes, the capital. If that had succeeded, good-bye to
liberty here. But John Randolph of Virginia made a vigorous
report against it; and although they persevered so well as to get
three favorable reports for it, yet the United States Senate,
with the aid of some slave States, finally squelched if for good.
[Applause.] And that is why this hall is to-day a temple for free
men instead of a negro livery-stable. [Great applause and
laughter.] Once let slavery get planted in a locality, by ever so
weak or doubtful a title, and in ever so small numbers, and it is
like the Canada thistle or Bermuda grass–you can’t root it out.
You yourself may detest slavery; but your neighbor has five or
six slaves, and he is an excellent neighbor, or your son has
married his daughter, and they beg you to help save their
property, and you vote against your interests and principle to
accommodate a neighbor, hoping that your vote will be on the
losing side. And others do the same; and in those ways slavery
gets a sure foothold. And when that is done the whole mighty
Union–the force of the nation–is committed to its support. And
that very process is working in Kansas to-day. And you must
recollect that the slave property is worth a billion of dollars;
while free-State men must work for sentiment alone. Then there
are “blue lodges”–as they call them–everywhere doing their
secret and deadly work.

It is a very strange thing, and not solvable by any moral law
that I know of, that if a man loses his horse, the whole country
will turn out to help hang the thief; but if a man but a shade or
two darker than I am is himself stolen, the same crowd will hang
one who aids in restoring him to liberty. Such are the
inconsistencies of slavery, where a horse is more sacred than a
man; and the essence of squatter or popular sovereignty–I don’t
care how you call it–is that if one man chooses to make a slave
of another, no third man shall be allowed to object. And if you
can do this in free Kansas, and it is allowed to stand, the next
thing you will see is shiploads of negroes from Africa at the
wharf at Charleston, for one thing is as truly lawful as the
other; and these are the bastard notions we have got to stamp
out, else they will stamp us out. [Sensation and applause.]

Two years ago, at Springfield, Judge Douglas avowed that Illinois
came into the Union as a slave State, and that slavery was weeded
out by the operation of his great, patent, everlasting principle
of “popular sovereignty.” [Laughter.] Well, now, that argument
must be answered, for it has a little grain of truth at the
bottom. I do not mean that it is true in essence, as he would
have us believe. It could not be essentially true if the
Ordinance of ’87 was valid. But, in point of fact, there were
some degraded beings called slaves in Kaskaskia and the other
French settlements when our first State constitution was adopted;
that is a fact, and I don’t deny it. Slaves were brought here as
early as 1720, and were kept here in spite of the Ordinance of
1787 against it. But slavery did not thrive here. On the
contrary, under the influence of the ordinance the number
decreased fifty-one from 1810 to 1820; while under the influence
of squatter sovereignty, right across the river in Missouri, they
increased seven thousand two hundred and eleven in the same time;
and slavery finally faded out in Illinois, under the influence of
the law of freedom, while it grew stronger and stronger in
Missouri, under the law or practice of “popular sovereignty.” In
point of fact there were but one hundred and seventeen slaves in
Illinois one year after its admission, or one to every four
hundred and seventy of its population; or, to state it in another
way, if Illinois was a slave State in 1820, so were New York and
New Jersey much greater slave States from having had greater
numbers, slavery having been established there in very early
times. But there is this vital difference between all these
States and the Judge’s Kansas experiment: that they sought to
disestablish slavery which had been already established, while
the Judge seeks, so far as he can, to disestablish freedom, which
had been established there by the Missouri Compromise. [Voices:

The Union is under-going a fearful strain; but it is a stout old
ship, and has weathered many a hard blow, and “the stars in their
courses,” aye, an invisible Power, greater than the puny efforts
of men, will fight for us. But we ourselves must not decline the
burden of responsibility, nor take counsel of unworthy passions.
Whatever duty urges us to do or to omit must be done or omitted;
and the recklessness with which our adversaries break the laws,
or counsel their violation, should afford no example for us.
Therefore, let us revere the Declaration of Independence; let us
continue to obey the Constitution and the laws; let us keep step
to the music of the Union. Let us draw a cordon, so to speak,
around the slave States, and the hateful institution, like a
reptile poisoning itself, will perish by its own infamy.

But we cannot be free men if this is, by our national choice, to
be a land of slavery. Those who deny freedom to others deserve
it not for themselves; and, under the rule of a just God, cannot
long retain
it.[Loud applause.]

Did you ever, my friends, seriously reflect upon the speed with
which we are tending downwards? Within the memory of men now
present the leading statesman of Virginia could make genuine,
red-hot abolitionist speeches in old Virginia! and, as I have
said, now even in “free Kansas” it is a crime to declare that it
is “free Kansas.” The very sentiments that I and others have just
uttered would entitle us, and each of us, to the ignominy and
seclusion of a dungeon; and yet I suppose that, like Paul, we
were “free born.” But if this thing is allowed to continue, it
will be but one step further to impress the same rule in
Illinois. [Sensation.]

The conclusion of all is, that we must restore the Missouri
Compromise. We must highly resolve that Kansas must be free!
[Great applause.] We must reinstate the birthday promise of the
Republic; we must reaffirm the Declaration of Independence; we
must make good in essence as well as in form Madison’s avowal
that “the word slave ought not to appear in the Constitution”;
and we must even go further, and decree that only local law, and
not that time-honored instrument, shall shelter a slaveholder.
We must make this a land of liberty in fact, as it is in name.
But in seeking to attain these results–so indispensable if the
liberty which is our pride and boast shall endure–we will be
loyal to the Constitution and to the “flag of our Union,” and no
matter what our grievance–even though Kansas shall come in as a
slave State; and no matter what theirs–even if we shall restore

[This was the climax; the audience rose to its feet en masse,
applauded, stamped, waved handkerchiefs, threw hats in the air,
and ran riot for several minutes. The arch-enchanter who wrought
this transformation looked, meanwhile, like the personification
of political justice.]

But let us, meanwhile, appeal to the sense and patriotism of the
people, and not to their prejudices; let us spread the floods of
enthusiasm here aroused all over these vast prairies, so
suggestive of freedom. Let us commence by electing the gallant
soldier Governor (Colonel) Bissell who stood for the honor of our
State alike on the plains and amidst the chaparral of Mexico and
on the floor of Congress, while he defied the Southern Hotspur;
and that will have a greater moral effect than all the border
ruffians can accomplish in all their raids on Kansas. There is
both a power and a magic in popular opinion. To that let us now
appeal; and while, in all probability, no resort to force will be
needed, our moderation and forbearance will stand US in good
GOD OF HOSTS! [Immense applause and a rush for the orator.]

One can realize with this ability to move people’s minds that the
Southern Conspiracy were right to hate this man. He, better than
any at the time was able to uncover their stratagems and tear
down their sophisms and contradictions.



SPRINGFIELD, July 9, 1856.

DEAR WHITNEY:–I now expect to go to Chicago on the 15th, and I
probably shall remain there or thereabouts for about two weeks.

It turned me blind when I first heard Swett was beaten and
Lovejoy nominated; but, after much reflection, I really believe
it is best to let it stand. This, of course, I wish to be

Lamon did get your deeds. I went with him to the office, got
them, and put them in his hands myself.

Yours very truly,





Your’s of the 29th of June was duly received. I did not answer
it because it plagued me. This morning I received another from
Judd and Peck, written by consultation with you. Now let me tell
you why I am plagued:

1. I can hardly spare the time.

2. I am superstitious. I have scarcely known a party preceding
an election to call in help from the neighboring States but they
lost the State. Last fall, our friends had Wade, of Ohio, and
others, in Maine; and they lost the State. Last spring our
adversaries had New Hampshire full of South Carolinians, and they
lost the State. And so, generally, it seems to stir up more
enemies than friends.

Have the enemy called in any foreign help? If they have a
foreign champion there I should have no objection to drive a nail
in his track. I shall reach Chicago on the night of the 15th, to
attend to a little business in court. Consider the things I have
suggested, and write me at Chicago. Especially write me whether
Browning consents to visit you.

Your obedient servant,




You further charge us with being disunionists. If you mean that
it is our aim to dissolve the Union, I for myself answer that it
is untrue; for those who act with me I answer that it is untrue.
Have you heard us assert that as our aim? Do you really believe
that such is our aim? Do you find it in our platform, our
speeches, our conventions, or anywhere? If not, withdraw the

But you may say that, though it is not our aim, it will be the
result if we succeed, and that we are therefore disunionists in
fact. This is a grave charge you make against us, and we
certainly have a right to demand that you specify in what way we
are to dissolve the Union. How are we to effect this?

The only specification offered is volunteered by Mr. Fillmore in
his Albany speech. His charge is that if we elect a President
and Vice-President both from the free States, it will dissolve
the Union. This
is open folly. The Constitution provides that the President and
Vice-President of the United States shall be of different States,
but says nothing as to the latitude and longitude of those
States. In 1828 Andrew Jackson, of Tennessee, and John C.
Calhoun, of South Carolina, were elected President and Vice-
President, both from slave States; but no one thought of
dissolving the Union then on that account. In 1840 Harrison, of
Ohio, and Tyler, of Virginia, were elected. In 1841 Harrison
died and John Tyler succeeded to the Presidency, and William R.
King, of Alabama, was elected acting Vice-President by the
Senate; but no one supposed that the Union was in danger. In
fact, at the very time Mr. Fillmore uttered this idle charge, the
state of things in the United States disproved it. Mr. Pierce,
of New Hampshire, and Mr. Bright, of Indiana, both from free
States, are President and Vice-President, and the Union stands
and will stand. You do not pretend that it ought to dissolve the
Union, and the facts show that it won’t; therefore the charge may
be dismissed without further consideration.

No other specification is made, and the only one that could be
made is that the restoration of the restriction of 1820, making
the United States territory free territory, would dissolve the
Union. Gentlemen, it will require a decided majority to pass
such an act. We, the majority, being able constitutionally to do
all that we purpose, would have no desire to dissolve the Union.
Do you say that such restriction of slavery would be
unconstitutional, and that some of the States would not submit to
its enforcement? I grant you that an unconstitutional act is not
a law; but I do not ask and will not take your construction of
the Constitution. The Supreme Court of the United States is the
tribunal to decide such a question, and we will submit to its
decisions; and if you do also, there will be an end of the
matter. Will you? If not, who are the disunionists–you or we?
We, the majority, would not strive to dissolve the Union; and if
any attempt is made, it must be by you, who so loudly stigmatize
us as disunionists. But the Union, in any event, will not be
dissolved. We don’t want to dissolve it, and if you attempt it
we won’t let you. With the purse and sword, the army and navy
and treasury, in our hands and at our command, you could not do
it. This government would be very weak indeed if a majority with
a disciplined army and navy and a well-filled treasury could not
preserve itself when attacked by an unarmed, undisciplined,
unorganized minority. All this talk about the dissolution of the
Union is humbug, nothing but folly. We do not want to dissolve
the Union; you shall not.




DEAR SIR:–I understand you are a Fillmore man. If, as between
Fremont and Buchanan, you really prefer the election of Buchanan,
then burn this without reading a line further. But if you would
like to defeat Buchanan and his gang, allow me a word with you:
Does any one pretend that Fillmore can carry the vote of this
State? I have not heard a single man pretend so. Every vote
taken from Fremont and given to Fillmore is just so much in favor
of Buchanan. The Buchanan men see this; and hence their great
anxiety in favor of the Fillmore movement. They know where the
shoe pinches. They now greatly prefer having a man of your
character go for Fillmore than for Buchanan because they expect
several to go with you, who would go for Fremont if you were to
go directly for Buchanan.

I think I now understand the relative strength of the three
parties in this State as well as any one man does, and my opinion
is that to-day Buchanan has alone 85,000, Fremont 78,000, and
Fillmore 21,000.

This gives B. the State by 7000 and leaves him in the minority of
the whole 14,000.

Fremont and Fillmore men being united on Bissell, as they already
are, he cannot be beaten. This is not a long letter, but it
contains the whole story.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 19, 1856.

DEAR DUBOIS : Your letter on the same sheet with Mr. Miller’s is
just received. I have been absent four days. I do not know when
your court sits.

Trumbull has written the committee here to have a set of
appointments made for him commencing here in Springfield, on the
11th of Sept., and to extend throughout the south half of the
State. When he goes to Lawrenceville, as he will, I will strain
every nerve to be with you and him. More than that I cannot
promise now.

Yours as truly as ever,




SPRINGFIELD, September 8, 1856.

DEAR SIR:–I understand you are a Fillmore man. Let me prove to
you that every vote withheld from Fremont and given to Fillmore
in this State actually lessens Fillmore’s chance of being
President. Suppose Buchanan gets all the slave States and
Pennsylvania, and any other one State besides; then he is
elected, no matter who gets all the rest. But suppose Fillmore
gets the two slave States of Maryland and Kentucky; then Buchanan
is not elected; Fillmore goes into the House of Representatives,
and may be made President by a compromise. But suppose, again,
Fillmore’s friends throw away a few thousand votes on him in
Indiana and Illinois; it will inevitably give these States to
Buchanan, which will more than compensate him for the loss of
Maryland and Kentucky, will elect him, and leave Fillmore no
chance in the House of Representatives or out of it.

This is as plain as adding up the weight of three small hogs. As
Mr. Fillmore has no possible chance to carry Illinois for
himself, it is plainly to his interest to let Fremont take it,
and thus keep it out of the hands of Buchanan. Be not deceived.
Buchanan is the hard horse to beat in this race. Let him have
Illinois, and nothing can beat him; and he will get Illinois if
men persist in throwing away votes upon Mr. Fillmore. Does some
one persuade you that Mr. Fillmore can carry Illinois? Nonsense!
There are over seventy newspapers in Illinois opposing Buchanan,
only three or four of which support Mr. Fillmore, all the rest
going for Fremont. Are not these newspapers a fair index of the
proportion of the votes? If not, tell me why.

Again, of these three or four Fillmore newspapers, two, at least,
are supported in part by the Buchanan men, as I understand. Do
not they know where the shoe pinches? They know the Fillmore
movement helps them, and therefore they help it. Do think these
things over, and then act according to your judgment.

Yours very truly,



Sept. 14, 1856.

Dr. R. BOAL, Lacon, Ill.

MY DEAR SIR:–Yours of the 8th inviting me to be with [you] at
Lacon on the 30th is received. I feel that I owe you and our
friends of Marshall a good deal, and I will come if I can; and if
I do not get there, it will be because I shall think my efforts
are now needed farther south.

Present my regards to Mrs. Boal, and believe [me], as ever,

Your friend,



SPRINGFIELD, Sept. 14, 1856.

DEAR SIR:–Yours, inviting me to attend a mass-meeting on the 23d
inst., is received. It would be very pleasant to strike hands
with the Fremonters of Iowa, who have led the van so splendidly,
in this grand charge which we hope and believe will end in a most
glorious victory. All thanks, all honor to Iowa! But Iowa is
out of all danger, and it is no time for us, when the battle
still rages, to pay holiday visits to Iowa. I am sure you will
excuse me for remaining in Illinois, where much hard work is
still to be done.

Yours very truly,




We have another annual Presidential message. Like a rejected
lover making merry at the wedding of his rival, the President
felicitates himself hugely over the late Presidential election.
He considers the result a signal triumph of good principles and
good men, and a very pointed rebuke of bad ones. He says the
people did it. He forgets that the “people,” as he complacently
calls only those who voted for Buchanan, are in a minority of the
whole people by about four hundred thousand votes–one full tenth
of all the votes. Remembering this, he might perceive that the
“rebuke” may not be quite as durable as he seems to think–that
the majority may not choose to remain permanently rebuked by that

The President thinks the great body of us Fremonters, being
ardently attached to liberty, in the abstract, were duped by a
few wicked and designing men. There is a slight difference of
opinion on this. We think he, being ardently attached to the
hope of a second term, in the concrete, was duped by men who had
liberty every way. He is the cat’s-paw. By much dragging of
chestnuts from the fire for others to eat, his claws are burnt
off to the gristle, and he is thrown aside as unfit for further
use. As the fool said of King Lear, when his daughters had
turned him out of doors, “He ‘s a shelled peascod” [“That ‘s a
sheal’d peascod”).

So far as the President charges us “with a desire to change the
domestic institutions of existing States,” and of “doing
everything in our power to deprive the Constitution and the laws
of moral authority,” for the whole party on belief, and for
myself on knowledge, I pronounce the charge an unmixed and
unmitigated falsehood.

Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change
public opinio