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At the close of the canvass, Mr. Lincoln resumed the practice of his profession. His fame as a lawyer and a
a statesman had extended throughout the West, and he was called by professional engagements, not only into every part of Illinois, but into Indiana, Wisconsin, Missouri and Ohio.
In 1859, he visited Kansas, and the grateful people of that young State received him as one who had eloquently plead their cause.
In the autumn of 1859, Douglas visited and stumped Ohio. The fame of Lincoln had extended there, and he was sent for to come to that State and reply. He went, and spoke at Columbus and Cincinnati.
A few extracts are given from his speech at Columbus :
The American people, on the irst day of January, 1854, found the African slave trade probibited by a law of Congress. In a majority of the States of this Union, they found African slavery, or any other sort of slavery, prohibited by Stato Constitutions. They also found a law existing, supposed to be valid, by which klavery was excluded from almost all the territory the United States then owned. This was the condition of the country, with reference to the institution of slavery, on the first of January, 1854. A few days after that, a bill was introduced into Congress, which ran through its regular course in the two branches of the National Legislature, and finally passed into a law in the month of May, by which the act of Congress prohibiting slavery from going into the Territories of the United Btatos was repealed. In connection with the law itself, and, in fact, in the terms of the law, the then existing prohibition was not only repealed, but there was a declaration of a purpose on the part of Congress never thereafter to exercise any power that they might have, real or supposed, to prohibit the extensión or spread of slavery. This was a very great change; for the law thus repealed was of more than thirty years' standing. Following rapidly upon the heels of this action of Congress, a decision of the Supreme Court is made, by which it is declared that Congress, If it desires to prohibit the spread of slavery into the Territories, has no Constitutional power to do so. Not only so, but that decision lays down principles which, if pushed to their logical oonclusion - I say pushed to their logical conclu. sion --would decide that the Constitutions of free States, forbidding slavery, are themselves unconstitutional. Mark me, I do not say the Judge said this, and lot no man say I affirm the Judge used these words; but I only say it is my opinion that what he did say, I pressed to its logical conclusion, will inevitably result thos.
Looking at these things, the Republican party, as I understand its principles and policy, believe that there is great danger of the institution of slavery being spread out and extended, until it is ultimately made allke lawful in all the states of this Union; so believing, to prevent that incidental and ultimato consummer tion, is the original and chief purpose of the Republican organization. I say shief purpose of the Republican organization; for it is certainly true that if the National House shall fall into the hands of the Republicans, they will have to Bitend to all he other matters of National House-keeping, as well as this.
Of the Ordinance of 1787, he said:
Not only did that Ordinance prevail, but it was constantly looked to whenever a stop was taken by a new Territory to become a state. Congress always turned wheir attention to it, and in all their movements upon that subject, they traced their course by that Ordinance of '87. When they admitted new states, they advertised them of this Ordinance as a part of the legislation of the country. They did so because they had traced the ordinance of '87 throughout the history of this country. Begin with the men of the Revolution, and go down for sixty entire years, and until the last scrap of that Territory comes into the Union in the form of the state of Wisconsin, everything was made to conform with the Ordinance of '87, excluding slavery from that vast extent of country.
At Cincinnati, Lincoln addressed himself to Kentuckians among others. He said:
It has occurred to me here to-night, that if I ever do shoot over the line at the people on the other side of the line into a slave State, and purpose to do so, keep ing my skin safe, that I have now about the best chance I shall ever have. I should not wonder that there are some Kentucklans about this audience; we are close to Kentucky; and whether that be so or not, we are on elevated ground, and hy speaking distinctly, I should not wonder if some of the Kentucklans would hear me on the other side of the river. For that reason I propose to address a portion of what I have to say to the Kentucklans.
I say, then, in the first place, to the Kentucklans, that I am what they call, as I understand it, a “ Black Republican." I think slavery is wrong, morally and politically. I desire that it should be no further spread in these United States, and I should not object if it should gradually terminate in the whole Union. While I say this for myself, I say to you Kentuckians, that I understand you differ radi. cally with me upon this proposition; that you believe slavery is a good thing; that slavery is right; that it ought to be extended and perpetuated in this Union. Now, there being this broad difference between us, I do not pretend in addressing myself to you Kentucklans, to attempt proselyting you; that would be a vain effort. I do not enter upon it. I only propose to try to show you that you ought to nominate for the next Presidency, at Charleston, my distinguished friend, Judge Douglas. In all that there is a difference between you and hiin, I understand he is sincerely for you, and more wisely for you, than you are for yourselves.
It is my opinion that it is for you to take him or be defeated; and that if you do take him you may be beaten. You will surely be beaten if you do not take him. We, the Republicans and others, forming the opposition of the country, intend to “stand by our guns," to be patient and firm, and in the long run to beat you whether you take him or not. We know that before we fairly beat you, we have to beat you both together. We know that you are all of a “ feather," and that we have to beat you altogether, and we expect to do it. We don't intend to be very Impatient about it. We mean to be as deliberate and calm about it as it is possible to be, but as firm and resolved as it is possible for men to be. When we do as we say, beat you, you perhaps want to know what we will do with you.
I will tell you, so far as I am authorized to speak for the opposition, what we mean to do with you. We mean to treat you, as near as we possibly can, as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, treated you. We mean to leave you alone, and in no way to interfere with your institution; to abide by all and every compromise of the Constitution, and, in a word, coming back to the original proposition, to treat you, so far as degenerated men (if we have degenerated,) may, according to the examples of those noble fathers - Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. We mean to remember that you are as good as we; that there is no difference between us other than the difference of circumstances. We mean to recognize and bear in mind always that you have as good hearts in your bosoms as other people, or as we claim to have, and treat you accordingly. We mean to marry your girls when we have a chance - the white ones I mean, and I have the honor to inform you that I once did have a chance in that way.
I have told you what we mean to do. I want to know, now when that thing takes place, what you mean to do. I often hear it iytimated that you mean to divide the Union whenever a republican or anything like it, is elected President of the United States. (A voice - "That is so.") "That is so," one of thern says; I wonder if he is a Kentuckian? (A voice - “He is a Douglas man.") Well, then, I want to know what you are going to do with your half of it? Aro you going to split the Ohio down through, and push your hall off a piece? Or are you going to keep it right alongside of us outrageous fellows? Or are you going to build up & wall some way between your country and ours, by which that movable property of yours can't oome over here any more, to the danger of your losing it? Do you think you can better yourselves on that subject, by leaving us here under no obli. gation whatever to return those specimens of your movable property that come hither? You have divided the Union because we would not do right with you, as you think, upon that subject; when we cease to be under obligations to do anything for you, how much better off do you think you will be? Will you make war upon us and kill us all? Why, gentlemen, I think you are as gallant and as bravo men as Uve; that you can fight as bravely in a good cause, man for man, as any, other people living; that you have shown yourselves capable of this upon various Occasions; but man for man, you are not better than we are, and there are not so many of you as there are of us. You will never make much of a band at whipping us. If we were fewer in numbers than you, I think that you could whip us; if we were equal it would likely be a drawn battle; but being inferior in numbers, yon will make nothing by attempting to master us.
The most elaborate and carefully prepared speech, ever made by Mr. Lincoln, was that delivered by him at the Cooper Institute, in the city of New York, on Tuesday evening, February 29th, 1860.
This was Mr. Lincoln's first appearance in that city. The large hall was crowded to hear this Western statesman, then chiefly known as the successful competitor of Douglas. Bryant, the poet, presided; if any came to bear noisy declamation or verbiage, they must have been disappointed.
There is not a more learned, exhaustive, logical speech in political literature. It has not a superfluous word.
He took for the text of his speech, these words of Senator Douglas, uttered at Columbus, Ohio, the previous autumn.
“Our fathers when they framed the Government under which we live, understood this question just as well, and even better than we do now."
Conceding that this was true, Mr. Lincoln proceeded to enquire," what was the understanding those fathers had of the question mentioned?” (Blavery.)
He first answers, who were our fathers who framed the Government."
He showed that the thirty-nine men who framed the Constitution were our fathers.”
“ What is the question which these fathers understood just as well, if not better than we do now?”
It is this: “Does the Constitution forbid our Federal Government to control as to slavery in our Federal territories ?”
He then went into a full historical argument on the subject, presenting every recorded act of the Fathers upon the question. His argument demonstrating the right of Congress to prohibit slavery in the territories, never has been, and never can be answered.
He closed this great speech, which made a profound impression upon the thoughtful men of New York, with these memorable words. “ 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.”
This effort was so dignified in manner, and style, it exhibited such logic, and learning, and was in every way so different from what was expected, that the orator from the prairies awoke the next morning to find himself famous.
This speech was very widely circulated and read, and pre pared the minds of the people for his nomination for the Presidency.
As the Presidential election of 1860, approached, Mr. Lincoln's name was more and more frequently mentioned in connection with that position. The prominent candidates, however, continued to be Senators Seward and Cameron, and Governor Chase. Mr.Lincoln, outside of Illinois, was regarded only as a possible compromise candidate.
On the 10th of May, 1860, a Republican State Convention was held at Decatur, in Macon county, Illinois, to nominate State officers, and appoint delegates to the National Presidential Convention, which was to meet in Chicago, in June.
As Mr. Lincoln entered the hall where the convention was in session, he was received with such marked demonstration as left no doubt, about his being the choice of Illinois, for the Presidency. Soon after he was seated, General Oglesby, announced that an old democrat of Macon county, desired to make a contribution to the convention.
Immediately, some farmers brought into the hall two old fence rails, bearing the inscription, “ Abraham Lincoln, the rail candidate for the Presidency in 1860. Two rails from a lot of 3,000, made in 1830, by Thomas Hanks and Abe Lincoln, whose father was the first pioneer of Macon county.”
The effect of this cannot be described. For fifteen minutes, cheers upon cheers went up from the crowd. Lincoln was called to the stand, but his rising was the signal for renewed cheering, and this contiåued until the audience had exhausted itself, and then Mr. Lincoln gave a history of these two rails, and of his life in Macon county. He told the story of his labor in helping to build his father's log cabin, and fencing in a field of corn.
This dramatic scene, was not planned by politicians, but was the spontaneous action of the old pioneers. The effect it had upon the people, satisfied all present, that it was a waste of words to talk in Illinois, of any other man than Abraham Lincoln, for President.
No public man had less of the demagogue, than Mr. Lincoln. He never mentioned his humble life, or his manual labor, for the purpose of getting votes. He knew perfectly well, that it did not follow because a man could split rails, that he would make a good statesman or President. So far from having any feeling of this kind, he realized painfully, the defects of his education, and did his utmost to supply his deficiencies.
When told that the people were talking of making him President, he said, “they ought to select some one who knows more than I do."
But while he did not think any more of himself, because he had in early life, split rails, he had too much real dignity, to lose any self respect on that account.