Infomotions, Inc.The Writings of Abraham Lincoln - Volume 1: 1832-1843 / Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865

Author: Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 1
by Abraham Lincoln

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Title: The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 1

Author: Abraham Lincoln

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Produced by David Widger





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 follows:

"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 more 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.


SAGAMORE HILL, OYSTER BAY, N. Y., 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. McClure & 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 debt.

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

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 principles.

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 neighbors.

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

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

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

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 prosperity.

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

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 &


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

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 fellowmen from bondage; honored by mankind as Statesman,
President, and Liberator.

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

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

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 1830 and 1880 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 another."

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

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

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 independence.

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

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

"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

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 period.

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

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, A. LINCOLN.

New Salem, March 9, 1832.


NEW SALEM, 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 case.

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

Your friend, A. LINCOLN.




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.

Respectfully, A. LINCOLN.


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

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, A. LINCOLN.



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, A. LINCOLN.


VANDALIA, 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, LINCOLN


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

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 stock.

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 false--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 it.

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

(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

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 Coles, 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

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

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

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

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 with.

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 decision.

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

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

Your friend and humble servant,


SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 16, 1837

FRIEND MARY: 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 are.

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

Your friend,




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 knowledge of

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 claimed 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 follows:

Joseph Anderson, vs. 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.

his JOSEPH x ANDERSON. mark.

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 deed."

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

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

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 accessible.

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

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 possession.

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

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 matter.

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 he 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'll 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 he 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.

A. LINCOLN. 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

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

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

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, A. LINCOLN.



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

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 Beardstown.

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

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 people?

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


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, A. LINCOLN

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



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 committee:

(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 cast.

(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 them.

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.


SPRINGFIELD, 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 documents.

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, A. LINCOLN


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 otherwise.


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 seriatim.

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

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

DEAR STUART: 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 country.

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 it.


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

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

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

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.

   S. H. LITTLE,
   E. D. BAKER,
   J. J. HARDIN,
   E. B. WEBS,

   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
brickyard. 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, LINCOLN.


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 them.


BLOOMINGTON, ILL., September 27, 1841.

Miss Mary Speed, Louisville, Ky.

MY FRIEND: 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, A. LINCOLN.


January 30, 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

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 concentrate.

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 Devil.

"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

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

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, A. LINCOLN. 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

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


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 victory.

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 pipe.


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 blast.

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 appetites.

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 ourselves.

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

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 other.

"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


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

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

"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

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

"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 Whig!"

"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

"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 interesting.'

"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

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 be
worthy of the man on whom are now turned the fondest hopes of a great and
suffering nation.

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 myself.

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 be sufficient. I will say further, it is not my intention to
menace, but to do myself justice.

Your obedient servant, JAS. SHIELDS.


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

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

Yours forever,


SPRINGFIELD, 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

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

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 the Whigs of all portions of the State to
adopt and rigidly adhere to the convention system of nominating

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 State.

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


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

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

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

"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 subject.

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 present.

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 discussion.

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

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

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 this.

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

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. A. L.

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