Abraham Lincoln and Chicago
Springfield attorney Abraham Lincoln frequently went to Chicago during the 1850s on political or legal business. When appearing before the U. S District Court in July and December, he occasionally stayed for weeks at a time. When there, Mr. Lincoln was often called upon to deliver political speeches. Although work brought him to Illinois’s most populous city, the former congressman decided in 1849 not to live there – unlike Mr. Lincoln’s longtime political rival, Senator Stephen A. Douglas, who moved to Chicago in 1847.
Judge David Davis recalled that after former Congressman Lincoln had returned to Illinois from Washington, Grant “Goodrich of Chicago proposed to him to open a law office in Chicago and go into partnership with him. Goodrich had an Extensive – a good practice there. Lincoln refused to accept – gave as a reason that he tended to Consumption – That if he went to Chicago that he would have to sit down and Study hard – That it would Kill him.”1 But July and December appearances in Chicago courts became almost as much a regular part of Mr. Lincoln’s legal work as his spring and fall tours of Illinois’s Eighth Judicial Circuit and his appeals work before the Illinois Supreme Court.
Mr. Lincoln’s friends included some of the top members of the Chicago bar – Isaac N. Arnold, Grant Goodrich, Norman B. Judd, Ebenezer Peck, and – he also knew some of the city’s top journalists including Joseph Medill, Charles H. Ray, Charles Wilson, and Horace White. Mr. Lincoln socialized frequently at the homes of Arnold, Judd and Peck and even helped bankroll Judd’s business investments. When Republican State Chairman Judd arranged for the 1860 Republican National Convention to be held Chicago, Mr. Lincoln’s friends were in a position to help promote his candidacy. Chicago residents, who had often listened to his speeches, were in a position to cheer.
That convention took place only 13 years after Mr. Lincoln first visited the city. In July 1847, Congressman-elect Lincoln attended the Rivers and Harbors Convention in Chicago as part of a three-member delegation from Sangamon County. As Lincoln biographer William E. Barton wrote: “The River and Harbor convention of 1847 grew out of the veto of the River and Harbor Bill, on August 3, 1846, by President James K. Polk, That bill had contained appropriations of $15,000 for the harbor of Buffalo, $20,000 for Cleveland, $40,000 for the St. Clair flats, $80,000 for Milwaukee, Racine, Chicago, and other nearby ports, and sums for other lake harbors.”2
Future Illinois congressman Elihu B. Washburne recalled that “Mr. Lincoln was simply a looker on, and took no leading part in the convention. His dress and personal appearance on that occasion could not well be forgotten… One afternoon, several of us sat on the sidewalk under the balcony of the Sherman House, and among the number was the accomplished scholar and unrivaled orator, Lisle Smith. He suddenly interrupted the conversation by exclaiming, ‘There is Lincoln on the other side of the street. Just look at “Old Abe”. And from that time we all called him “Old Abe”. No one who saw him can forget his personal appearance at that time. Tall, angular and awkward, he had on a short-waisted, thin swallow-tail coat, a short vest of the same material, thin pantaloons, scarcely coming to his ankles, a straw hat and a pair of brogans with woolen socks.”3
The convention was Mr. Lincoln’s first exposure to such luminaries at New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley, future Attorney General Edward Bates, and future House Speaker Schuyler Colfax. Mr. Lincoln also saw future Massachusetts Congressman Anson Burlingame and Ohio Senator Thomas Corwin, both of whom held diplomatic posts under the Lincoln presidency. Mr. Lincoln’s big day came on Tuesday, July 6. After New York attorney David Dudley Field, speaking on behalf of the Polk Administration, delivered an addressed opposing federal aid to only public works projects consistent with the Constitution, Mr. Lincoln was called upon to give a Whig response. The New York Tribune reported that he “spoke briefly and happily in reply to Mr. Field.”4 The convention adjourned on Wednesday and Mr. Lincoln left Chicago on Thursday.
More than a year later, on October 5, 1848 while returning from a series of speaking engagements in Massachusetts, Mr. Lincoln and his family stopped at Chicago’s Sherman House The lame duck congressman was apparently recruited to speak at a rally for Whig presidential candidate Zachary Taylor to be held the next night. Although scheduled for the county courthouse, so many people showed up that the rally was moved to the nearby square instead. The Chicago Journal reported that Mr. Lincoln’s two-hour speech was “one of the very best we have heard or read, since the opening of the campaign.”5
The Chicago Commercial Appeal reported: “Mr. Lincoln’s speech occupied about two hours, which time he devoted to a most earnest, candidate and logical examination of the great questions involved in the present Presidential canvass. He clearly and conclusively showed that the defeat of Gen. Taylor would be a verdict of the American people, against any restriction or restraint to the extension and perpetuation of slavery in newly acquired territory. In this he resorted to no special pleading, but with well arranged and pertinent facts, and sincere arguments he fully demonstrated it. During his speech he introduced several humorous, but very appropriate illustrations.” 6 Attorney Stephen A. Hurlbut, a future Civil War general, spoke after Mr. Lincoln. The next morning, the Lincolns departed for Springfield.
After returning to his Illinois law practice in 1849, Mr. Lincoln regularly came to Chicago for sittings of the U.S. District Court. Like most prominent attorneys and politicians, Mr. Lincoln usually stayed at the Tremont Hotel when in Chicago. Attorney Henry C. Whitney called it “the mecca in those days; and thither, all political pilgrims came…” 7 One of Chicago’s most prominent politicians, John Wentworth with whom Mr. Lincoln had served in Congress, lived there. Mr. Lincoln spent more than two weeks in the city in July 1850 attending to a patent infringement trial. While there, President Zachary Taylor died and Mr. Lincoln was invited to deliver a eulogy, which he did on Thursday, July 25 – just before Mr. Lincoln won the Hoyt patent-infringement trial and before he left Chicago for Springfield. ‘In his eulogy, Mr. Lincoln said:
“In connection with Gen. Taylor’s military character, may be mentioned his relations with his brother officers, and his soldiers. Terrible as he was to his country’s enemies, no man was so little disposed to have difficulty with his friends. During the period of his life, dueling was a practice not quite uncommon among gentlemen in the peaceful avocation of life, and still more common among the officers of the Army and Navy. Yet, so far as I can learn, a duel with Gen. Taylor, has never been talked of. He was alike averse to sudden, and to startling quarrels; and he pursued no man with revenge. A notable and a noble instance of this, is found in his conduct to the gallant and now lamented Gen. Worth. A short while before the battles of the 8th and 9th of May, some questions of precedence arose between Worth, (then a colonel) and some other officers, which question it seems Gen. Taylor’s duty to decide. He decided against Worth. Worth was greatly offended, left the Army, came to the United States, and tendered his resignation to the authorities at Washington. It is said, that in his passionate feeling, he hesitated not speak harshly and disparagingly of Gen. Taylor. He was an officer of the highest character; and his word, on military subjects, and about military men, could not, with the country, pass for nothing. In this absence from the army of Col. Worth, the unexpected turn of things brought on the battles of the 8th and 9th. He was deeply mortified – in almost absolute desperation – at having lost the opportunity of being present, and taking part in those battles. The laurels won by his previous service, in his own eyes, seemed withering away. The Government, both wisely and generously, I think, declined accepting his resignation; and he returned to Gen. Taylor. Then came Gen. Taylor’s opportunity for revenge. The battle of Monterey was approaching, and even at hand. Taylor could if he would, so place Worth in that battle, that his name would scarcely be noticed in the report. But no. He felt it was due to the service, to assign the real post of honor to some one of the best officers; he knew Worth was one of the best, and he felt that it was generous to allow him, then and there, to retrieve his secret loss. Accordingly he assigned to Col. Worth in that assault, what was par excellence, the post of honor; and, the duties of which, he executed so well, and so brilliantly, as to eclipse, in that battle, even Gen. Taylor himself.”
“As to Gen. Taylor’s relations with his soldiers, details would be endless. It is perhaps enough to say – and it is far from the least of his honors that we can truly say – that of the many who served with him through the long course of forty years, all testify to the uniform kindness, and his constant care for, and hearty sympathy with, their every want and every suffering; while none can be found to declare, that he was ever a tyrant anywhere, in anything.”
“Going back a little in point of time, it is proper to say that so soon as the news of the battles of the 8th and 9th of May 1856, had fairly reached the United States, Gen. Taylor began to be named for the next Presidency, by letter writers, newspapers, public meetings and conventions in various parts of the country.”
“These nominations were generally put forth as being of a no-party character. Up to this time I think it highly probable – nay, a most certain, that Gen. Taylor had never thought of the Presidency in connection with himself. And there is reason for believing that the first intelligence of these nominations rather amused than seriously interested him. Yet I should be insincere, were I not to confess, that in my opinion, the repeated, and steady manifestations in his favor, did beget in his mind a laudable ambition to reach the high distinction of the Presidential chair.”
“As the time for the Presidential canvass approached, it was seen that general nominations, combining anything near the number of votes necessary to an election, could not be made without some pretty strong and decided reference to party politics. Accordingly, in the month of May, 1848, the great Democratic Party nominated party, on strictly party grounds. Almost immediately following this, the Whig party, in general convention, nominated Gen. Taylor as their candidate. The election came off in the November following; and though there was also a third candidate, the two former only, received any vote in the electoral college. Gen. Taylor, having the majority of them was duly elected; and he entered on the duties of that high and responsible office, March 5th, 1849. The incidents of his administration up to the time of his death, are took familiar and too fresh to require any direct repetition.”
“The Presidency, even to the most experienced politicians, is no bed of roses; and Gen. Taylor like others, found thorns within it. No human being can fill that station and escape censure. Still I hope and believe when Gen. Taylor’s official conduct shall come to be viewed in the calm light of history, he will be found to have deserved as little as any who have succeeded him.”
“Upon the death of Gen. Taylor, as it would be in the case of the death of any President, we are naturally led to consider what will be its effect, politically, upon the country. I will not pretend to believe that all the wisdom, or all the patriotism of the country, died with Gen. Taylor. But we know that wisdom and patriotism, in a public office, under institutions like ours, are wholly inefficient and worthless, unless they are sustained by the confidence and devotion of the people. And I confess my apprehensions, that in the death of the late President, we have lost a degree of that confidence and devotion, which will not soon again pertain to any successor. Between public measures regarded as antagonistic, there is often less real difference in its bearing on the public weal, than there is between the dispute being kept up, or being settled either way. I fear the one great question of the day, is not now so likely to be partially acquiesced in by the different sections of the Union, as it would have been, could Gen. Taylor have been spared to us. Yet, under all circumstances, trusting to our Maker, and through his wisdom and beneficence, to the great body of our people, we will not despair, nor despond.”
“In Gen. Taylor’s general public relation to his country, what will strongly impress a close observer, was his unostentatious, self-sacrificing, long enduring devotion to his duty. He indulged in no recreations, he visited no public places, seeking applause; but quietly, as the earth in its orbit, he was always at his post. Along our whole Indian frontier, thro’ summer and winter, in sunshine and storm, like a sleepless sentinel, he has watched, while we have slept for forty long years. How well might the dying hero say at last, ‘I have done my duty, I am ready to go.'”
“Nor can I help thinking that the American people in electing Gen. Taylor to the presidency, thereby showing their high appreciation of his sterling, but unobtrusive qualities, did their country a service, and themselves an imperishable honor. It is much for the young to know, that treading the hard path of duty, as he trod it, will be noticed, and will lead to high places.”
“But he is gone. The conqueror at last is conquered. The fruits of his labor, his name, his memory and example, are all that is left us – his example, verifying the great truth, that ‘he that humbleth himself, shall be exalted’ teaching, that to serve one’s country with a singleness of purpose, gives assurance of that country’s gratitude, secures its best honors, and makes ‘a dying bed, soft as downy pillows are.'”
“The death of the late President may not be without its use, in reminding us, that we, too, must die. Death, abstractly considered, is the same with the high as with the low; but practically, we are not so much aroused to the contemplation of our own mortal natures, by the fall of many undistinguished, as that of one great, and well known, name. By the latter, we are forced to muse, and ponder, sadly.”
‘Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud'”
“So the multitude goes, like the flower or the weed,
That withers away to let others succeed;
So the multitude comes, even those we behold,
To repeat every tale that has often been told.”
“For we are the same, our fathers have been,
We see the same sights our fathers have seen;
We drink the same streams and see the same sun
And run the same course our fathers have run.”
“They loved; but the story we cannot unfold;
They scorned, but the heart of the haughty is cold;
They grieved, but no wail from their slumbers will come,
They joyed, but the tongue of their gladness is dumb.”
“They died! Aye, they died; we things that are now;
That work on the turf that lies on their brow,
And make in their dwellings a transient abode,
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.”
“Yes! hope and despondency, pleasure and plain,
Are mingled together in sun-shine and rain;
And the smile and the tear, and the song and the dirge,
Still follow each other, like surge upon surge.”
“‘Tis the wink of an eye, ’tis the draught of a breath,
From the blossoms of health, to the paleness of death.
From the gilded saloon, to the bier and the shroud.
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud!” 8
According to Lincoln biographer William H. Herndon, “The [Hoyt] suit was on the merits of an infringement of a patent water wheel. The trial lasted several days and Lincoln manifested great interest in the case. In his earlier days he had run, or aided in running, a saw-mill, and explained in his argument the action of the water on the wheel in a manner so clear and intelligible that the jury were enabled to comprehend the points and line of defense without the least difficulty. It was evident he had carried the jury with him in a most masterly argument, the force of which could not be broken by the reply of the opposing counsel. After the jury retired he became very anxious and uneasy. The jury were in another building, the windows of which opened on the street, and had been out for some two hours. ‘In passing along the street, one of the jurors on whom we very much relied, relates Lincoln’s associate in the case (Grant Goodrich), ‘he being a very intelligent man and firm in his convictions, held up to him one finger. Mr. Lincoln became very much excited, fearing it indicated that eleven of the jury were against him. He knew if this man was for him he would never yield his opinion. He added, if he was like a juryman had in Tazewell County, the defendant was safe. He was there employed, he said, to prosecute a suit for divorce. His client as a a pretty, refined, and interesting little woman in court. The defendant, her husband, was a gross, morose, querulous, fault-finding, and uncomfortable man, and entirely unfitted for the husband of such a woman; but although he was able to prove the use of very offensive and vulgar epithets applied by the husband to his wife, and all sorts of annoyances, yet there were no such acts of personal violence as were required by the statute to justify a divorce. Lincoln did the best he could and appealed to the jury to have compassion on the woman, and not to bind her to such a man and such a life as awaited her if required to live longer with him. The jury took about the same view of it in their deliberations. They desired to find for his fair client, but could discover no evidence which would really justify a verdict for her. At last they drew up a verdict for the defendant, and all signed but one fellow, who on being approached with the verdict, said, cooly: ‘Gentlemen, I am going to lie down to sleep, and when you get ready to give a verdict for that little woman, then wake me and not until them; for before I will give a verdict against her I will lie here till I rot and the pismires carry me out through the keyhole.’ ‘Now,’ observed Lincoln, ‘if that juryman will stick like the man Tazewell County we are safe.’ Strange to relate, the jury did come in, and with a verdict for the defendant. Lincoln always regarded this as one of the gratifying triumphs of his professional life.”9
There are no records of any visits to Chicago in 1851, but Mr. Lincoln spent much of December 1852 there working as a state commissioner with fellow attorney Noah Johnston reviewing claims made against Illinois and Michigan Canal. They reached Chicago on Wednesday, December 8 and worked for the remainder of the week collecting testimony. It was 1854, however, when the frequency of Mr. Lincoln’s visits to the city increased.
The passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act sponsored by Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas brought Mr. Lincoln back into politics in 1854. Mr. Lincoln spent much of September and October of that year making speeches against the Douglas legislation. Mr. Lincoln ended his campaign against Kansas-Nebraska and for anti-Nebraska candidates by speaking at North Market Hall in Chicago on October 27 shortly before the election. The Chicago Journal noted: “The impression created by Mr. Lincoln on all men, of all parties, was first, that he was an honest man, and second, that he was a powerful speaker. Abraham Lincoln never trims a speech to suit a latitude – he is always the same man”.10
After the 1854 election resulted in a sharp rebuff for pro-Douglas Democrats, Mr. Lincoln pursued election for the Senate seat then held by Democrat James Shields. Mr. Lincoln generated wide support but less than he expected in Chicago. He complained to Congressman Elihu B. Washburne, “So far as I am concerned, there must be something wrong about U.S. Senator, at Chicago. My most intimate friends there do no answer my letters; and I can not get a word from them. [John] Wentworth has a knack of knowing things better than most men. I wish you would pump him, and write me what you get from him. Please do this as soon as you can, as the time is growing short.” 11 Washburne helped, but it was not enough and Mr. Lincoln eventually threw his support to another anti-Nebraska attorney, Democrat Lyman Trumbull, who won the election in February 1855.
Mr. Lincoln spent July 2-17, 1855 in Chicago. Lincoln scholar Blaine Gernon wrote: “In 1855, Chicago was boasting of its population of eighty-five thousand, its fifty-seven hotels, and new school – Chicago University built on land which Douglas had donated. Cyrus McCormick was trying to force all rivals out of the field of building reapers, and a group of his competitors had decided to oppose his patent claims by supporting John H. Manny of Rockford, Illinois, in a test case, which it was supposed would be tried before Judge Drummond in the federal court in Chicago. P.H. Watson, patent attorney of Washington, D.C., and George Harding of Philadelphia, came on to Chicago to employ local counsel to assist them in the trial. They sought out I. N. Arnold, who remembered his good friend Lincoln in Springfield, and sent them to him. Thus a Chicagoan secured for Lincoln employment in a very important lawsuit.”12 That summer Mr. Lincoln actively prepared for the trial, which commenced in Cincinnati in September. To Mr. Lincoln’s chagrin, the lead counsel for Manny effectively ignored Mr. Lincoln.
Political events again captured Mr. Lincoln’s attention in 1856. Mr. Lincoln left Springfield on July 15, but he took three days to reach Chicago, stopping to give political speeches in Dixon and Sterling. Before leaving, Mr. Lincoln wrote Henry C. Whitney: “I now expect to go to Chicago on the 15th., and I probably shall remain there, and thereabouts, for about two weeks.” 13 When he did arrive in the Windy City on July 19, he delivered a major speech on behalf of the Republican presidential ticket. The Chicago Democratic Press reported:
“A large meeting was held in Dearborn Park on Saturday evening to hear the speech of Mr. Lincoln, and we have never seen an audience held for so long a time in the open air to listen to an argumentative speech. The speaker was calm, clear and forcible, constantly referring to indisputable facts in our political history, and drawing conclusions from them in favor of supporting the Anti-Nebraska platform and nominees, that were unanswerable. He showed how the South does not put up her own men for the Presidency, but holds up the prize that the ambition of Northern men may make bids for it. He demonstrated in the strongest manner, that the only issue now before us, is freedom or slavery, that the perpetuity of our institutions is dependent upon maintaining the former against the aggression of the latter, and held up the bug bear of disunion, threatened by the slavery extensionists, to the scorn and contempt it deserves.”14
Mr. Lincoln returned to Chicago in December to appear in U.S. Circuit Court on a patent case. On the night after his arrival, December 10, Mr. Lincoln spoke to about 300 Republicans at a dinner celebrating the Republican Party’s success in Illinois elections – even though the Republican presidential ticket had been defeated. According to Lincoln biographer Albert Beveridge, “Everything good to eat and drink which then could be found in Chicago – ‘every luxury,’ said the newspapers – was on the tables. The editor of the Illinois State Journal, who was there, declared that ‘the vocabulary of superlatives’ could not do justice to the occasion, and that his reades would have to draw upon their imagination to fill this picture. The banquet began at eight o’clock and lasted ‘until the watch-dial pointed to the beginning of another day.’ At the ends of the hall, long and broad American flags were draped; upon one was put the motto ‘LIBERTY AND UNION,’ upon the other ‘ILLINOIS REDEEMED.’ A glee club sang lively songs and at intervals a band played in a way that was positively ‘soul-stirring.'”15 The Chicago Democratic Press reported on the Tremont House affair:
“Hon Abram Lincoln of Springfield, amid most deafening cheers, arose to reply to this toast. He said he could most heartily indorse the sentiment expressed in the toast. During the whole canvass we had been assailed as the enemies of the Union, and he often had occasion to repudiate the sentiments attributed to us. He said that the Republican party was the friend of the Union. [Cheers.] It was the friend of the Union now; and if it had been entirely successful, it would have been the friend of the Union more than ever. [Loud and long continued cheers]. He maintained that the Liberty for which we contended could best be obtained by a firm, a steady adherence to the Union. As Webster said, ‘Not Union without liberty, nor liberty without Union; but Union and liberty, now and forever, one and inseparable.’ [Loud Cheers.] The speaker said we had selected and elected a Republican State ticket. We have done what we supposed to be our duty. It is now the duty of those elected to give us a good Republican Administration. In regard to the Governor-elect, Col. [William] Bissell, – [Loud and long-continued cheers and waving of handkerchiefs] – he referred to the opposite party saying that ‘he couldn’t take the oath.’ Well, they said ‘he couldn’t be elected,’ and as they were mistaken once, he thought they were not unlikely to be mistaken again. ‘They wouldn’t take such an oath!’ Oh, no! [Laughter.] ‘They would cut off their right arm first.’ He would like to know one of them who would not part with his right arm to have the privilege of taking the oath….The speaker referred to the anecdote of the boy who was talking to another as to whether Gen. Jackson could ever get to Heaven. Said the boy ‘He’d get there if he had a mind to.’ [Cheers and laughter.] So was it with Col. Bissell, – he’d do whatever he had a mind to. [Cheers.]”
“Mr. Lincoln provided to the Illinois State Journal the text of his speech’s conclusion which stressed a return to the equality principles of the Declaration of Independence:
We have another Presidential Message. Like a rejected lover, making merry at the wedding of his rival, the President felicitates hugely over the late Presidential election. He considers the result a signal triumph of good principles and good men, and a very pointed rebuke of bad ones. He says the people did it. He forgets that the ‘people,’ as he complacently calls only those who voted for Buchanan, are in a minority of the whole people, by about four hundred thousand voters – one full tenth of all the voters. Remembering this, he might perceive that the ‘Rebuke’ may not be quite as durable as he seems to think – that the majority may not chose to remain permanently rebuked by that minority.”
“The President thinks the great body of us Fremonters, being ardently attached to liberty, in the abstract, were duped by a few wicked and designing men. There is a slight difference of opinion on this. We think he, being ardently attached to the hope of a second term, in the concrete, was duped by men who had liberty every way. He is in the cat’s paw. By much dragging of chestnuts from the fire for others to eat, his claws are burnt off to the gristle, and he is thrown aside as unfit for further use. As the fool said to King Lear, when his daughters had turned him out of doors, ‘He’s a shelled pea’s cod.'”
“So far as the President charges us ‘with a desire to change the domestic institution of existing States;’ and of ‘doing everything in our power to deprive the Constitution and the laws of moral authority,’ for the whole party, on belief, and for myself, on knowledge I pronounce the charge an unmixed, and unmitigated falsehood.”
“Our government rests in public opinion. Whoever can change public opinion, can change the government, practically just so much. Public opinion, or [on?] any subject, always has a ‘central idea,’ from which all its minor thoughts radiate. That ‘central idea’ in our political public opinion, at the beginning was, and until recently has continued to be, ‘the equality of men.’ And although it was always submitted patiently to whatever of inequality there seemed to be as matter of actual necessity, it constant working has been a steady progress towards the practical equality of all men. The late Presidential election was a struggle, by one party, to discard that central idea, and to substitute for it the opposite idea that slavery is right, in the abstract, the workings of which, as a central idea, may be the perpetuity of human slavery, and its extension to all countries and colors. Less than a year ago, the Richmond Enquirer, an avowed advocate of slavery, regardless of color, in order to favor his views, invented the phrase, ‘State equality,’ and now the President, in his Message, adopts the Enquirer’s catch-phrase, telling us the people ‘have asserted the constitutional equality of each and all the States of the Union as States.’ The President flatters himself that the new central idea is completely inaugurated; and so, indeed, it is, so far as the mere fact of a Presidential election can inaugurate it. To us it is left to know that the majority of the people have not yet declared for it, and to hope that they never will.”
“All of us who did not vote for Mr. Buchanan, taken together, are a majority of four hundred thousand. But, in the late contest we were divided between [John C.] Fremont and [Millard] Fillmore. Can we not come together, for the future. Let every one who really believes, and is resolved, that free society is not, and shall not be, a failure, and who can conscientiously declare that in the past contest he has done only what he thought best – let every such one have charity to believe that every other one can say as much. Thus let bygones be bygones. Let past differences, as nothing be; and with steady eye on the real issue, let us reinaugurate the good old ‘central ideas’ of the Republic. We can do it. The human heart is with us – God is with us. We shall again be able not to declare, that ‘all States as States, are equal,’ nor yet that ‘all citizens are equal,’ but to renew the broader, better declaration, including both these and much more, that ‘all men are created equal.'”16
In 1857 Mr. Lincoln frequently visited Chicago – first in late February, again on legal work – especially for the Illinois Central Railroad. Mr. Lincoln ended the month by speaking to a Republican rally in Metropolitan Hall. Chicago Republicans were kicking off the mayoral campaign of Lincoln’s former congressional colleague, John Wentworth. According to the Chicago Democratic Press, “The utmost enthusiasm prevailed.” 17 According to Mr. Lincoln’s notes for his speech, he was prepared to say:
“With the future of this party, the approaching city election will have something to do – not, indeed, to the extent of making or breaking it, but still to help or hurt it.”
“Last year, the city election here was lost by our friends; and none can safely say, but that fact lost us the electoral ticket at the State election.”
“Although Chicago recovered herself in the fall, there was no general confidence that she could do sop and the Spring election encouraged our enemies, and haunted and depressed our friends to the last.”
“Let it not be so again.”
“Let minor differences, and personal preferences, if there be such; go to the winds.”
“Let it be seen by the result, that the cause of free-men and free-labor is stronger in Chicago that day, than ever before.”
“Let the news go forth to our thirteen hundred thousand bretheren, to gladden, and to multiply them; and to insure and accelerate that consumation, upon which the happy destiny of all men, everywhere, depends.”
“We were without party history, party pride, or party idols.”
“We were a collection of individuals, but recently in political hostility, one to another; and thus subject to all that distrust, and suspicion, and jealousy could do.”
“Everywhere in the ranks of the common enemy, were old party and personal friends, jibing, and jeering, and framing deceitful arguments against us.”
“We were scarcely met at all on the real issue. Thousands avowed our principles, but turned from us, professing to believe we meant more than we said.”
“No argument, which was true in fact, made any head-way against us. This we know.”
“We were constantly charged with seeking an amalgamation of the white and black races; and thousands turned from us, not believing the charge (no one believed it) but fearing to face it themselves.” 18
Mr. Lincoln spent the first three weeks of September 1857, working on the Effie Afton trial. He was one of three attorneys for the plaintiff while the defendant was represented by T.D. Lincoln. Attorney Frederick G. Saltonstall described the scene: “The Court held its sessions in what was known as the Saloon Building on the southeast corner of Clark and Lake Streets. The room appropriated for its use was not more than forty feet square, with the usual division for the judge, clerks, and attorneys occupying perhaps twenty feet on the father side, and provided with the usual furniture. The rest of the room contained long benches for the accommodation of the public. Near the door was a large stove of the ‘box’ pattern surmounted by a ‘drum.'”19
Saltonstall wrote: “During a tedious examination by one of the opposing counsel, Mr. Lincoln rose from his chair, and walking wearily about – this seemed to be his habit – at last came down the aisle between the long benches toward the end of the room; and seeing a vacant space on the end of the bench which projected some distance beyond the stove, came over and sat down. Having entered the room an hour before, I sat on the end, but, as Mr. Lincoln approached, moved back to give him room. As he sat down he picked up a bit of wood, and began to chip it with his knife, seeming absorbed, however, in the testimony under consideration. Some time passed, when Lincoln suddenly arose, and walking rapidly toward the bar, energetically contested the testimony, and demanded the production of the original notes as to measurements, showing wide differences. Considerable stir was occasioned in the room by this incident, and it evidently made a deep impression as to his comprehension, vigilance, and remembrance of the details of the testimony.”20 After three weeks of testimony and presentations of depositions, the jury deadlocked 9-3.
The summer of 1858 saw Mr. Lincoln’s return to virtually full-time politics after the Republican State Convention meeting in at the State Capitol in Springfield designated him as the party’s candidate against Senator Stephen A. Douglas. There had been only one serious challenger to Mr. Lincoln’s senate aspirations in 1858, Chicago Mayor John Wentworth, with whom Mr. Lincoln had served in Congress and with whom he shared an interest in internal improvements. Wentworth’s business career was even more successful than his political one; he was a very wealthy man. Although he denounced banks, he was closely associated with the First National Bank of Chicago. Wentworth was eccentric in dress, pugnacious in politics, mercurial and imperial but sensitive to political realities. Despite his talent for creating feuds and enemies, especially within the Republican Party, he had won the mayoral election in 1857. The former Democrat had broken with his party over Kansas-Nebraska in 1854 and joined with the new Republican Party. His power base was extended by ownership of the Chicago Democrat. But, noted historian Allan Nevins, “the imperious will and biting pen of the ‘Chicago autocrat’ had made enemies, and when the test came, he proved unable to carry the northern counties. Men in and about Chicago, led by State Chairman Norman B. Judd and Charles L. Wilson, editor of the Chicago Journal, were determined to defeat him and they made thorough preparations. On April 21 a conference of editors, including C. H. Ray of the Chicago Tribune, William Bross of the Democratic Press, and George T. Brown of the Alton Courier, met in the State library at Springfield to complete their plans. On the appointed day the city delegates marched into the convention hall under a banner reading, “Cook County is for Abraham Lincoln.” Still more important than the activities of the leaders just named was a grass roots movement for Lincoln in the county gatherings, where the plain votes demanded his selection.”21
Senator Douglas replied to Mr. Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech in a major speech on July 9 when Mr. Lincoln was already in the city for legal work with the U.S. District Court. Douglas opened his reelection campaign “when he delivered from the balcony of the Tremont House a speech intended as an answer to the one made by Lincoln in Springfield,” wrote Lincoln biographer William H. Herndon. “Lincoln was present at this reception, but took no part in it. The next day, however, he replied. Both speeches were delivered at the same place,” according to Herndon, although Mr. Lincoln’s crowd was somewhat smaller.22
Abram E. Smith, a printer for the Chicago Daily Journal, witnessed the speech: “Mr. Lincoln made from the Lake Street balcony of the old Tremont House. There was a large crowd, but I maintained my position and heard the speech through. I thought he acted so kind of humble, spoke at first as one unused to speaking, with hesitation, deliberately, and alluding to his opponent as ‘Judge’ Douglas, as though he felt his own inferiority in culture and rank. At first I felt sorry for him, sorry he was not a more fluent speaker. I had heard Judge Douglas the previous evening, from the same place, and he was a more graceful and more fluent orator. I feared that Mr. Lincoln was no match for the Democratic champion, but as he went one I grew more interested, and thought though not so eloquent, not so fluent, he knew what he was talking about; he lost his diffidence, made strong assaults on Douglas and his Nebraska bill, and that he was a grand able man. I know that I forgot all about the length of the speech, though I stood all the time, and it lasted over two hours.”23 Mr. Lincoln said in his Saturday night speech:
“My Fellow Citizens: – On yesterday evening, upon the occasion of the reception given to Senator Douglas, I was furnished with a seat very convenient for hearing him, and was otherwise very courteously treated by him and his friends, and for which I thank him and them. During the course of his remarks my name was mentioned in such a way, as I suppose renders it at least no improper that I should make some sort of reply to him. I shall not attempt to follow him in the precise order in which he addressed the assembled multitude upon that occasion, though I shall perhaps do so in the main.”
A Question of Veracity – The Alliance
“There was one question to which he asked the attention of the crowd, which I deem of somewhat less importance – at least of propriety for me to dwell upon – than the others, which he brought in near the close of his speech, and which I think it would not be entirely proper for me to omit attending to, and yet if I were not to give some attention to it now, I should probably forget it altogether. [Applause]. While I am upon this subject, allow me to say that I do not intend to indulge in that inconvenient mode sometimes adopted in public speaking, of reading from documents; but I shall depart from that rule so far as to read a little scrap from his speech, which notices this first topic of which I shall speak – that is, provided I can find it in the paper. (Examines the Press and Tribune of this morning). [A voice – ‘Get out your specs.’]
Reading on Lincoln said, “I have made up my mind to appeal to the people against the combination that has been made against me! – the Republican leaders have formed an alliance, an unholy and unnatural alliance, with a portion of unscrupulous federal office-holders. I intend to fight that allied army wherever I meet them. I know they deny the alliance, but yet these men who are trying to divide the Democratic Party for the purpose of electing a Republican Senator in my place, are just as much the agents and tools of the supporters of Mr. Lincoln. Hence I shall deal with this allied army just as the Russians dealt with the allies at Sebastopol – that is, the Russians did not stop to inquire, when they fired a broadside, whether it hit an Englishman, a Frenchman, or a Turk. Nor will I stop to inquire, not shall I hesitate, whether my blows shall hit these Republican leaders or their allies who are holding the federal offices and yet acting in concert with them.”
“Well now, gentlemen, is not that very alarming? [Laughter.] Just to think of it! Right at the outset of his canvass, I, a poor kind, amiable, intelligent, [laughter] gentleman, [laughter and renewed cheers] I am to be slain in this way. Why, my friend, the Judge, is not only, as it turns out, not a dead lion, nor even a living one – he is the rugged Russian Bear!” [Roars of laughter and loud applause.]
“But if they will have it – for he says that we deny it – that there is any such alliance, as he says there is – and I don’t propose hanging very much upon this question of veracity – but if he will have it that there is such an alliance – that the Administration men and we are allied, and we stand in the attitude of English, French and Turk, he occupying the position of the Russian, in that case, I beg that he will indulge us while we barely suggest to him, that these allies took Sebastopol.” [Long and tremendous applause.]
“Gentlemen, only a few more words as to this alliance. For my part, I have to say, that whether there be such an alliance, depends, so far as I know, upon what may be a right definition of the term alliance. If for the Republican party to see the other great party to which they are opposed divided among themselves, and not try to stop the division and rather be glad of it – if that is an alliance I confess I am in; but if it is meant to be said that the Republicans had formed an alliance going beyond that, by which there is contribution of money or sacrifice of principle on the one side or the other, so far as the Republican party is concerned, if there be any such thing, I protest that I neither know anything of it, nor do I believe it. I will however say – as I think this branch of the argument is lugged – I would before I leave it, state, for the benefit of those concerned, that one of those same Buchanan men did once tell me of an argument that he made for his opposition to Judge Douglas. He said that a friend of our Senator Douglas had been talking to him, and had among other things said to him: ‘Why, you don’t want to beat Douglas?’ ‘Yes,’ said he ‘I do want to beat him, and I will tell you why. I believe his original Nebraska bill was right in the abstract, but it was wrong in the time that it was brought forward. It was wrong in the application to a territory in regard to which the question had been settled; it was tendered to the South when the South had not asked for it, but when they could not well refuse it; and for this same reason he forced that question upon our party; it has sunk the best all over the nation, everywhere; and now when our President, struggling with the difficulties of this man’s getting up, has reached the very hardest point to turn in the case, he deserts him, and I am for putting him where he will trouble us no more.'” [Applause.]
“Now, gentlemen, that is not my argument – that is not my argument at all. I have only been stating to you the argument of a Buchanan man. You will judge if there is any force in it.” [Applause.]
What is Popular Sovereignty?
“Popular sovereignty! everlasting popular sovereignty! [Laughter and continued cheers.] Let us for a moment inquire into this vast matter of popular sovereignty. What is popular sovereignty? We recollect that at an early period in the history of this struggle, there was another name for this same thing – Squatter Sovereignty. It was not exactly Popular Sovereignty but Squatter Sovereignty. What do those terms mean? What do those terms mean when used now? And vast credit is taken by our friend, the Judge, in regard to his support of it, when he declares the last years of his life have been, and all the future years of his life shall be, devoted to this matter of popular sovereignty. What is it? Why, it is the sovereignty of the people! What was Squatter Sovereignty? I suppose if it had any significance at all it was the right of the people to govern themselves, to be sovereign of their own affairs while they were squatted down in a country not their own, while they had squatted on a territory that did not belong to them, in the sense that a State belongs to the people who inhabit it – when it belonged to the nation – such right to govern themselves was called ‘Squatter Sovereignty.'”
“Now I wish you to mark. What has become of that Squatter Sovereignty? What has become of it? Can you get anybody to tell you now that the people of a territory have any authority to govern themselves, in regard to this mooted question of Slavery, before they form a State Constitution? No such thing at all, although there is a general running fire, and although there has been a hurrah made in every speech on that side, assuming that policy had given the people of a territory the right to govern themselves upon this question; yet the point is dodged. To-day it has been decided – nor more than a year ago it was decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, and is insisted upon to-day, that the people of a territory have no right to exclude Slavery from a territory, all the rest of the people have no right to keep them out. This being so, and this decision being made one of the points that the Judge approved, and one in the approval of which he says he means to keep me down – put me down I should not say, for I have never been up. He says he is in favor of it, and sticks to it, and expects to win his battle on that decision, which says that there is no such thing as Squatter Sovereignty; but that any one man may take slaves into a territory, and all the other men in the territory may be opposed to it, and yet by reason of the constitution they cannot prohibit it. When that is so, how much is left of this vast matter of Squatter Sovereignty I should like to know?” – (a voice) – ‘it has all gone.’
“When we get back, we get to the point of the right of the people to make a constitution. Kansas was settled, for example, in 1854. It was a territory yet, without having formed a Constitution, in a very regular way, for three years. Al this time negro slavery could be taken in by an few individuals, and by that decision of the Supreme Court, which the Judge approves, all the rest of the people cannot keep it out; but when they come to make a Constitution they may say they will not have Slavery. But it is there; they are obliged to tolerate it in some way, and all experience shows that it will be so – for they will not take the negro slaves and absolutely deprive the owners of them. All experience shows this to be so. All that space of time that runs from the beginning of the settlement of the Territory until there is sufficiency of people to make a State Constitution – all that portion of time popular sovereignty is given up. The seal is absolutely put down upon it by the Court decision, and Judge Douglas puts his own upon the top of that, yet he is appealing to the people to give him vast credit for his devotion to popular sovereignty.” (Applause.)
“The Lecompton Constitution connects itself with this question, for it is in this matter of the Lecompton Constitution that our friend Judge Douglas claims such vast credit. I agree that in opposing the Lecompton Constitution so far as I can perceive, he was right. [‘Good,’ ‘good.’] I do not deny that at all; and gentlemen, you will readily see why I could not deny that at all; and gentlemen, you will readily see why I could not deny it, even if I wanted to. But I do not wish to; for all the Republicans in the nation opposed it, and they would have opposed it jut as much without Judge Douglas’ aid, as with it. They had all taken ground against it long before he did. Why, the reason that urges against that Constitution, I urged against him a year before. I have the printed speech in my hand. The argument that he makes, why that Constitution should not be adopted, that the people were not fairly represented nor allowed to vote, I pointed out in a speech a year ago, which I hold in my hand now, that no fair chance was to be given to the people. [‘Read it,’ ‘read it.’ I shall not waste your time by trying to read it. [‘Read it,’ ‘read it.’] Gentlemen, reading from speeches is a very tedious business, particularly for an old man that has to put on spectacles, and the more so if the man be so tall that he has to bend over to the light.” [Laughter.]
“A little more, now, as to this matter of popular sovereignty and the Lecompton Constitution. The Lecompton Constitution, as the Judge tells us, was defeated. The defeat of it was a good thing or it was not. He things the defeat of it was a good thing or it was not. He thinks the defeat of it was a good thing, and so do I, and we agree in that. Who defeated it?”[A voice] – ‘Judge Douglas.’
“Yes, he furnished himself, and if you suppose he controlled the other Democrats that went with him, he furnished three votes, while the Republicans furnished twenty.” [Applause.]
“That is what he did to defeat it. In the House of Representatives he and his friends furnished some twenty votes, and the Republicans furnished ninety odd. [Loud applause.] Now who was it that did the work?”[A voice] – ‘Douglas.’
“Why, yes, Douglas did it! To be sure he did. Let us, however, put that proposition another way. The Republicans could not have done it without Judge Douglas. Could he have done it without them. [Applause.] Which could have come the nearest to doing it without the other?” [Renewed applause. ‘That’s it,’ ‘that’s it,’ ‘good,’ ‘good.’] [A voice] – ‘Who killed the bill?’[Another voice] – ‘Douglas.’
“Ground was taken against it by the Republicans before Douglas did it. The proportion of opposition to that measure is about five to one.”[A voice] – ‘Why don’t they come out on it?’
“You don’t know what you are talking about my friend. I am quite willing to answer any gentleman in the crowd who asks an intelligent question.” [Great applause.]
“Now, who in all this country has ever found any of our friends of Judge Douglas’ way of thinking, and who have acted upon this main question, that has ever thought of uttering a word in behalf of Judge Trumbull? A voice – ‘we have.’ I defy you to show a printed resolution passed in a Democratic meeting – I take it upon myself to defy any man to show a printed resolution of a Democratic meeting, large or small, in favor of Judge Trumbull, or any of the five to one Republicans who beat that bill. Every thing must be for the Democrats! They did every thing, and the five to one that really did the thing, they snub over, and they do not seem to remember that they have an existence upon the face of the earth.” [Applause.]
Lincoln and Douglas
“Gentlemen: I fear that I shall become tedious.” (‘Go on, go on.’) “I leave this branch of the subject to take hold of another. I take that part of Judge Douglas’ speech in which he respectfully attended to me.” [Laughter.]
“Judge Douglas made two points upon my recent speech at Springfield. He says they are to be the issues of this campaign. The first one of these points he bases upon the language in a speech which I delivered at Springfield, which I believe I can quite correctly from memory. I said there that ‘we are now far into the fifth year since a policy was instituted for the avowed object and with the confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation; under the operation of that policy, that agitation had only not ceased, but has constantly augmented.’ – (A voice – ‘That’s the very language. I believe it will 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.’) [Applause.] ‘I do not expect the Union to be dissolved,’ – “I am quoting from my speech” – ‘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 the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the 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 until it shall become alike lawful in all the States, North as well as South.'” [Good, good.]
“What is the paragraph? In this paragraph which I have quoted in your hearing, and to which I ask the attention of all, Judge Douglas thinks he discovers great political heresy. I want your attention particularly to what he has inferred from it. He says I am in favor of making all the States of this Union uniform in all their internal regulations; that in all their domestic concerns I am in favor of making them entirely uniform. He draws this inference from the language I have quoted to you. He says that I am in favor of making war by the North upon the South for the extinction of slavery; that I am also in favor of inviting (as he expresses it) the South to a war upon the North, for the purpose of nationalizing slavery. Now, it is singular enough, if you will carefully read that passage over, that i did not say that I was in favor of anything in it. I only said what I expected would take place. I made a prediction only – it may have been a foolish one perhaps. I did not even say that I desired that slavery should be put in course of ultimate extinction. I do say so now, however, [great applause] so there need be no longer any difficulty about that. It may be written down in the great speech.” [Applause and laughter.]
“Gentlemen, Judge Douglas informed you that this speech of mine was probably carefully prepared. I admit that it was. I am not master of language; I have not a fine education; I am not capable of entering into a disquisition upon dialectics, as I believe you call it; but I do not believe the language I employed bears any such construction as Judge Douglas put upon it. But I don’t care about a quibble in regard to words. I know what I meant, and I will not leave this crowd in doubt, if I can explain it to them, what I really meant in the use of that paragraph.”
“I am not, in the first place, unaware that this Government endured eighty-two years, half slave and half free. I know that. I am tolerably well acquainted with the history of the country, and I know that it has endured eighty-two years, half slave and half free. I believe – and that is what I meant to allude to there – I believe it has endorsed because, during all that time, until the introduction of the Nebraska Bill, the public mind did rest, all the time, in the belief that slavery was in course of ultimate extinction. [‘Good!’ ‘Good!’ and applause.] That was what gave us the rest that we had through that period of eighty-two years; at least, so I believe. I have always hated slavery, I think as much as much as any Abolitionist. [Applause.] I have been an Old Line Whig. I have always hated it, but I have always been quiet about it until this new era of the introduction of the Nebraska Bill began. I always believed that everybody was against it, and that it was in the course of ultimate extinction. (Pointing to Mr. [Orville H.] Browning, who stood near by.) Browning thought so; the great mass of the nation have rested in the belief that slavery was in course of ultimate extinction. They had reason so to believe.”
“The adoption of the Constitution and its attendant history led the people to believe so; and that such was the belief of the framers of the Constitution itself. Why did those men, about the time of adoption of the Constitution, decree that Slavery should not go into the new Territory, where it had not already gone? Why declare that within twenty years the African Slave Trade, by which slaves are supplied, might be cut off by Congress? Why were all these acts? I might enumerate more of these acts – but enough. What were they but a clear indication that the framers of the Constitution intended and expected the ultimate extinction of that institution. [Cheers.] And now, when I say, as I said in my speech that Judge Douglas has quoted from, when I say that I think the opponents of slavery will resist the farther spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest with the belief that it is in course of ultimate extinction, I only mean to say, that they will place it where the founders of this Government originally placed it.”
“I have said a hundred times, and I have now no inclination to take it back, that I believe there is no right, and ought to be no inclination in the people of the free States to enter into the slave States, and interfere with the question of slavery at all. I have said that always. Judge Douglas has heard me say it – if not quite a hundred times, at least as good as a hundred times; and when it is said that I am in favor of interfering with slavery where it exists, I know it is unwarranted by anything I have ever intended, and, as I believe, by anything I have ever said. If, by any means, I have ever used language which could fairly be so construed, (as, however, I believe I never have,) I now correct it.”[Here the shouts of the Seventh Ward Delegation announced that they were coming in procession. They were received with enthusiastic cheers.]
“So much, then for the inference that Judge Douglas draws, that I am in favor of setting the sections at war with one another. I know that I never meant any such thing, and I believe that no fair mind can infer any such thing from anything I have ever said.” [‘Good,’ ‘good.’]
“Now, in relation to his inference that I am in favor of a general consolidation of all the local institutions of the various States. I will attend to that for a little while, and try to inquire, if I can, how on earth it could be that any man could draw such an inference from anything I said. I have said, very many times, in Judge Douglas’ hearing, that no man believed more than I in the principle of self-government; that it lies at the bottom of all my ideas of just government; that it lies at the bottom of all my ideas of just government, from beginning to end. I have denied that his use of that term applies properly. But for the thing itself, I deny that any man has ever gone ahead of me in his devotion to the principle, whatever he may have done in efficiency in advocating it. I think that I have said in your hearing – that I believe each individual is naturally entitled to do as he pleases with himself and the fruit of his labor, so far as it in no wise interferes with any other man’s rights – [applause] – that each community, as a State, has a right to do exactly as it pleases with all the concerns within that State that interfere with the rights of no other State, and that the general government, upon principle, has no right to interfere with anything other than that general class of things that does concern the whole. I have said that at all times. I have said, as illustrations, that I do not believe in the right of Illinois to interfere with the cranberry laws of Indiana, the oyster laws of Virginia, or the Liquor Laws of Maine. I have said these things over and over again, and I repeat them here as my sentiments.”
“How is it, then, that Judge Douglas infers, because I hope to see slavery put where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, that I am in favor of Illinois going over and interfering with the cranberry laws of Indiana? What can authorize him to draw any such inference? I suppose there might be one thing that at least enabled him to draw such an inference that would not be true with me or with many others, that is, because he looks upon all this matter of slavery as an exceedingly little thing – this matter of keeping one sixth of the population of the whole nation in a state of oppression and tyranny unequalled in the world. He looks upon it as being an exceedingly little thing – only equal to the question of the cranberry laws of Indiana – as something having no moral question in it – as something on a par with the question of whether a man shall pasture his land with cattle, or plant it with tobacco – so little and so small a thing, that he concludes, if I could desi, re that anything should be done to bring about the ultimate extinction of that little thing, I must be in favor of bringing about an amalgamation of all the other little things in the Union. Now, it so happens – and there, I presume, is the foundation of this mistake – that the Judge thinks thus; and it so happens that there is a vast portion of the American people that do not look upon that matter as being this very little thing. They look upon it as a vast moral evil; they can prove it is such by the writings of those who gave us the blessings of liberty which we enjoy, and that they so looked upon it, and not as an evil merely confining itself to the States where it is situated; and while we agree that, by the Constitution we assented to, in the States where it exists we have no right to interfere with it because it is in the Constitution and we are by both duty and inclination to stick by that Constitution in all its letter and spirit from beginning to end.” [Great applause.]
“So much then as to my disposition – my wish – to have all the State legislatures blotted out, and to have one general consolidated government, and a uniformity of domestic regulations in all the States, by which I suppose it is meant if we raise corn here, we must make sugar cane grow here too, and we must make those which grow North, grow in the South. All this I suppose he understands I am in favor of doing. Now, so much for all this nonsense – or I must call it so. The Judge can have no issue with me on a question of establishing uniformity in the domestic regulations of the States.”
Dred Scott Decision
“A little now on the other point – the Dred Scott Decision. Another one of the issues he says that is to be made with me, is upon his devotion to the Dred Scott Decision, and my opposition to it.”
“I have expressed heretofore, and I now repeat, my opposition to the Dred Scott Decision, but I should be allowed to state the nature of that opposition, and I ask your indulgence while I do so. What is fairly implied by the term Judge Douglas has used ‘resistance to the Decision?’ I do not resist it. If I wanted to take Dred Scott from his master, I would be interfering with property, and that terrible difficulty that Judge Douglas speaks of, of interfering with property, would arise. But I am doing no such thing as that, but all that I am doing is refusing to obey it as a political rule. If I were in Congress, and a vote should come up on a question whether slavery should be prohibited in a new territory, in spite of that Dred Scott decision, I would vote that it should.” [Applause; ‘good for you;’ ‘we hope to see it;’ ‘that’s right.’]
“That is what I would do. [‘You will have a chance soon.’] Judge Douglas said last night, that before the decision he might advance his opinion, and it might be contrary to the decision when it was made; but after it was made he would abide by it until it was reversed. Just so! We let this property abide by the decision, but we will try to reverse that decision. [Loud applause – cries of ‘good.’] We will try to put it where Judge Douglas would not object, for he says he will obey it until it is reversed. Somebody has to reverse that decision, since it is made, and we mean to reverse it, and we mean to do it peaceably.”
“What are the uses of decisions of courts? They have two uses. As rules of property they have two uses. First – they decide upon the question before the court. They decide in this case that Dred Scott is a slave. Nobody resists that. Not only that, but they say to everybody else, that persons standing just as Dred Scott stands is [sic] as he is. That is, they say that when a question comes up upon another person it will be so decided again, unless the court decides in another way, [cheers – cries of ‘good,’] unless the court overrules its decision. [Renewed applause]. Well, we mean to do what we can to have the court decide the other way. That is one thing we mean to try to do.”
“The sacredness that Judge Douglas throws around this decision, is a degree of sacredness that has never been before thrown around any other decision. I have never heard of such a thing. Why, decisions apparently contrary to that decision, or that good lawyers thought were contrary to that decision, have been made by that very court before. It is the first of its kind; it is an astonisher in legal history. [Laughter.] It is a new wonder of the world. [Laughter and applause.] It is based upon falsehood in the main as to the facts – allegations of facts upon which it stands are not facts at all in many instances, and no decision made on any question – the first instance of a decision made under so many unfavorable circumstances – thus placed has ever been held by the profession as law, and thus it has always needed confirmation before the lawyers regarded it as settled law. But Judge Douglas will have it that all hands must take this extraordinary decision, made under these extraordinary circumstances, and give their vote in Congress in accordance with it, yield to it and obey it in every possible sense. Circumstances alter cases. Do not gentlemen here remember the case of that same Supreme Court, some twenty-five or thirty years ago, deciding that a National Bank was constitutional? I ask, if somebody does not remember that a National Bank was declared to be constitutional? [‘Yes,’ ‘yes’} Such is the truth, whether it be remembered or not. The Bank charter ran out, and a re-charter was granted by Congress. That re-charter was laid before General [Andrew] Jackson. It was urged upon him, when he denied the constitutionality of the bank, that the Supreme Court has decided that it was constitutional; and that General Jackson then said that the Supreme Court has no right to lay down a rule to govern a co-ordinate branch of the government, the members of which had sworn to support the Constitution as he understood it. I will venture here to say, that I have heard Judge Douglas say that he approved of General Jackson for that act. What has now become of all his tirade about ‘resistance to the Supreme Court?'” [‘Gone up,’ ‘Gone to the Theatre.’]
“My fellow citizens, getting back a little, for I pass from these points, when Judge Douglas makes his threat of annihilation upon the ‘alliance.’ He is cautious to say that that warfare of his is to fall upon the leaders of the Republican party. Almost every word he utters and every distinction he makes, has its significance. He means for the Republicans that do not count themselves as leaders, to be his friends; he makes no fuss over them; it is the leaders that he is making war upon. He wants it understood that the mass of the Republican Party are really his friends. It is only the leaders that are doing something, that are intolerant, and that requires extermination at his hands. As this is clearly and unquestionably the light in which he presents that matter, I want to ask your attention, addressing myself to the Republicans here, that I may ask you some questions, as to where you, as the Republican party, would be placed if you sustained Judge Douglas in his present position by a re-election? I do not claim, gentlemen, to be unselfish, I do not pretend that I would not like to go to the United States Senate, (laughter), I make no such hypocritical pretense, but I do say to you that in this mighty issue, it is nothing to you – nothing to the mass of the people of the nation, whether or not Judge Douglas or myself shall ever be heard of after this night, it may be a trifle to either of us, but in connection with this might question, upon which hang the destinies of the nation, perhaps, it is absolutely nothing; but where will you be placed if you re-endorse Judge Douglas? Don’t you know how apt he is – how exceedingly anxious he is at all times to seize upon anything and everything to persuade you that something he has done you did yourselves? Why, he tried to persuade you last night that our Illinois Legislature instructed him to introduce the Nebraska bill. There as nobody in that legislature ever thought of such a thing; and when he first introduced the bill, he never thought of it; but still he fights furiously for the proposition, and that he did it because there was a standing instruction to our Senators to be always introducing Nebraska bills. [Laughter and applause] He tells you he is for the Cincinnati platform, he tells you he is for the Dred Scott decision. He tells you, not in his speech last night, but substantially in a former speech, that he cares not if slavery is voted up or down – he tells you the struggle on Lecompton is past – it may come up again or not, and if it does he stands where he stood when in spite of him and his opposition you built up the Republican party. If you endorse him you tell him you do not care whether slavery be voted up or down, and he will close, or try to close yours moths with his declaration repeated by the day, the week, the month and the year. Is that what you mean? (cries of ‘no,’ one voice ‘yes.’) Yes, I have no doubt you who have always been for him if you mean that. No doubt of that (A voice ‘hit him again’) soberly I have said, and I repeat it I think in the position in which Judge Douglas stood in opposing the Lecompton Constitution he was right, he does not know that it will return, but if it does we may know where to find him, and if it does not we may know where to look for him and that is on the Cincinnati platform. Now I could ask the Republican party after all the hard names that Judge Douglas has called them by – all his repeated charges of their inclinations to marry with and hug negroes – all his declarations of Black Republicanism – by the way we are improving, the black has got rubbed off – but with all that, if he be endorsed by Republican votes where do you stand? Plainly you stand ready saddled, bridled and harnessed and waiting to be driven over to the slavery extension [voice ‘we will hang ourselves first’] – just ready to be driven over tied together in a lot – to be driven over, every man with a rope around his neck, that halter being held by Judge Douglas. That is the question. If Republican men have been in earnest in what they have done, I think they had better not do it, but I think that the Republican Party is made up of those who, as far as they can peaceably, will oppose the extension of slavery, and who will hope for its ultimate extinction. If they believe it is wrong in grasping up the new lands of the continent, and keeping them from the settlement of free white laborers, who want the land to bring up their families upon; if they are in earnest, although they may make a mistake, they will grow restless, and the time will come when they will come back again and re-organize, if not by the same name, at least upon the same principles as their party now has. It is better, then, to save the work while it is begun. You have done the labor; maintain it – keep it. If men choose to serve you, go with them; but as you have made up your organization upon principle, stand by it; for, as surely as God reigns over you, and has inspired your mind, and given you a sense of propriety, and continues to give you hope, so surely you will still cling to these ideas, and you will at last come back again after your wanderings, merely to do your work over again.” [Loud applause.]
“We were often – more than once at least – in the course of Judge Douglas’ speech last night, reminded that this government was made for white men – that he believed it was made for white men. Well, that is putting it into a shape in which no one wants to deny it, but the Judge then goes into his passion for drawing inferences that are not warranted. I protest, now and forever, against that counterfeit logic which presumes that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave, I do necessarily want her for a wife. [Laughter and cheers.] My understanding is that I need not have her for either, but as God made up separate, we can leave one another alone and do one another much good thereby. There are white men enough to marry all the white women, and enough black men to marry all the black women, and in God’s name let them be so married. The Judge regales us with the terrible enormities that take place by the mixture of races; that the inferior race bears the superior down. Why, Judge, if we do not let them get together in the Territories they won’t mix there.” [Immense applause.] [A voice] – ‘Three cheers for Lincoln.’ [The cheers were given with a hearty good will.]
“I should say at least that, that is a self evident truth.”
“Now, it happens that we meet together once every year, sometime about the 4th of July, for some reason or other. These 4th of July gatherings I suppose have their uses. If you will indulge me, I will state what I suppose to be some of them.”
“We are now a mighty nation, we are thirty – or about thirty millions of people, and we own and inhabit about one-fifteenth part of the dry land of the whole earth. We run our memory back over the pages of history for about eighty-two years and we discover that we were then a very small people in point of numbers, vastly inferior to what we are now, with a vastly less extent of country, – with vastly less of everything we deem desirable among men, – we look upon the change as exceedingly advantageous to us and to our prosperity, and we fix upon something that happened away back, as in some way or other being connected with this rise of prosperity. We find a race of men living in that day whom we claim as our fathers and grandfathers; they were iron men, they fought for the principle that they were contending for; and we understood that by what they then did it has followed that the degree of prosperity that we now enjoy has come to us. We hold this annual celebration to remind ourselves of all the good done in this process of time of how it was done and who did it, and how we are historically connected with it; and we go from these meetings in better humor with ourselves – we feel more attached the one to the other, and more firmly bound to the country we inhabit. In every way we are better than men in the age and race, and country in which we live for these celebrations. But after we have done all this we have not yet reached the whole. There is something else connected with it. We have besides these men-descended by blood from our ancestors – among us perhaps half our people who are not descendants at all of these men, they are men who have come from Europe – German, Irish, French and Scandinavian – men that have come from Europe themselves, or whose ancestors have come hither and settled here, finding themselves our equals in all things. If they look back through this history to trace their connection with those days by blood, they find they have none, they cannot carry themselves back into that glorious epoch and make themselves feel that they are part of us, but when they look through that old Declaration of Independence they find that those old men say that ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,’ and then they feel that that moral sentiment taught in that day evidences their relation to those men, that it is the father of all moral principle in them, and that they have a right to claim it as through they were blood of the blood, and flesh of the men who wrote that Declaration, (loud and long continued applause) and so they are. That is the electric cord in that Declaration that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving men together, that will link those patriotic hearts as long as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men throughout the world.” [Applause.]
“Now, sirs, for the purpose of squaring things with this idea of ‘don’t care if slavery is voted up or voted down,’ for sustaining the Dred Scott decision [A voice – ‘Hit him again’], for holding that the Declaration of Independence did not mean anything at all, we have Judge Douglas giving his exposition of what the Declaration of Independence means, and we have him saying that the people of America are equal to the people of England. According to his construction, you Germans are not connected with it. Now I ask you in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and endorsed, if taught to our children, and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this Government into a government of some other form. Those arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow. What are these arguments? They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge is the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn in whatever way you will – whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent, and I hold if that course of argumentation that is made for the purpose of convicting the public that we should not care about this, should be granted, it does not stop with the negro. I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop. If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man? If that declaration is not the truth, let us get the Statute book, in which we find it and tear it out! Who is so bad as to do it! [Voices – ‘me’ ‘no one,’] If it is not true let us tear it out! [cries of ‘no, no,’] let us stick to it then, [cheers] let us stand firmly by it then. [Applause.]
It may be argued that there are certain conditions that make necessities and impose them upon us and to the extent that a necessity is imposed upon a man he must submit to it. I think that was the condition in which we found ourselves when we established this government. We had slavery among us, we could not get our constitution unless we permitted them to remain in slavery, we could not secure the good we did secure if we grasped for more, and having by necessity submitted to that much, it does not destroy the principle that is charter of our liberties. Let that charter stand as our standard.
My friend has said to me that I am a poor hand to quote Scripture. I will try it again, however. It is said in one of the admonitions of the Lord, ‘As your Father in Heaven is perfect, be ye also perfect.’ The savior, I suppose, did not expect that any human creature could be perfect as the Father in Heaven is perfect, be ye also perfect.’ He set that up as a standard, and he who did most towards reaching that standard, attained the highest degree of moral perfection. So I say in relation to the principle that all men are created equal, let it be as nearly reached as we can. If we cannot give freedom to every creature let us do nothing that will impose slavery upon any other creature. [Applause.] Let us then turn this government back into the channel in which the framers of the Constitution originally placed it. Let us stand firmly by each other. If we do not do so we are turning in the contrary direction, that our friend Judge Douglas proposes – not intentionally – as working in the traces tend to make this one universal slave nation. [A voice – ‘that is so.’] He is one that runs in that direction, and as such I resist him.
“My friends, I have detained you about as long as I desired to do, and I have only to say, let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man – this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and therefore they must be placed in an inferior position – discarding our standard that we have left us. Let us discard all these things, and united as one people throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal.”
“My friends, I could not, without launching off upon some new topic, which would detain you too long, continue to-night. [Cries of ‘go on.’] I thank you for this most extensive audience that you have furnished me to-night. I leave you, hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.24
According to the Chicago Tribune, “Mr. Lincoln retired amid a perfect torrent of applause and cheers.” The Tribune reported that the audience “was, in point of numbers, about three-fourths as large as that of the previous evening, when Douglas held forth, and in point of enthusiasm, about four times as great.”25 Lincoln biographer Albert Beveridge wrote: “Republican papers glorified Lincoln’s speech: the cheering was ‘tremendous,’ and no wonder, for ‘his onslaught was terrible’ and he ‘completely demolished Mr. Douglas.’ Although not the equal of Douglas as a leader, Lincoln was ‘a remarkably able man…And he will be, beyond all question, the strongest opponent that could be found in the State to oppose Mr. Douglas,’ wrote the State Auditor to [Lyman] Trumbull; Douglas and his friends were ‘burning rosin at a great rate.’ IT was to be a hard flight: ‘We old line whigs belonging to the Republican ranks are not worth a curse to carry on a campaign;’ former Democrats must do it.” 26
In the ensuing four months, Douglas and Mr. Lincoln crisscrossed the state in separate appearances and seven join “Lincoln-Douglas Debates.” Although Republican candidates for the Illinois State Legislature received more votes than did the Democratic candidates, Douglas was reelected by a mal-apportioned legislature.
Mr. Lincoln went to Chicago several times in 1859. He appeared as an attorney in Haines vs. Talcott on February 28. Then, on March 1, Mr. Lincoln helped local Republicans celebrate their triumph in city elections by giving a speech at the Republican campaign office. It was his first major speech since the Senate campaign of the previous year.
“I understand that you have to-day rallied around your principles and they have again triumphed in the city of Chicago. I am exceedingly happy to meet you under such cheering auspices on this occasion – the first on which I have appeared before an audience since the campaign of last year. It is unsuitable to enter into a lengthy discourse, as is quite apparent, at a moment like this. I shall therefore detain you only a very short while.”
“It gives me peculiar pleasure to find an opportunity under such favorable circumstances to return my thanks for the gallant support that you of the city of Chicago and of Cook County gave to the cause in which we were all engaged in the late momentous struggle in Illinois. And while I am at it, I will through you thank all the Republicans of the State for the earnest devotion and glorious support they gave to the cause.”
“I am resolved not to deprive myself of the pleasure of believing, now, and so long as I live, that all those who, while we were in that contest, professed to be the friends of the cause, were really and truly so – that we are all really brothers in the work, with no false hearts among us.”
“For myself I am also gratified that during that canvass and since, however disappointing its termination, there was among my party friends so little fault found in me as to the manner in which I bore my part. I hardly dared hope to give as high a degree of satisfaction as it has since been my pleasure to believe I did in the part I bore in the contest.”
“I remember in that canvass but one instance of dissatisfaction with my course, and I allude to that, not for the purpose of reviving any matter of dispute or producing any unpleasant feeling, but in order to help get rid of the point upon which that matter of disagreement or dissatisfaction arose. I understand that in some speeches I made I said something, or was supposed to have said something, that some very good people, as I really believe them to be, commented upon unfavorably, and said that rather than support one holding such sentiments as I had expressed, the real friends of liberty could afford to wait awhile. I don’t want to say anything that shall excite unkind feeling, and I mention this simply to suggest that I am afraid of the effect of that sort of argument. I do not doubt that it comes from good men, but I am afraid of the result upon organized action where great results are in view, if any of us allow ourselves to seek out minor or separate points on which there may be difference of views as to policy and right, and let them keep us from uniting in action upon a great principle in a cause on which we all agree; or are deluded into the belief that all can be brought to consider alike and agree upon every minor point before we united and press forward in organization, asking the cooperation of all good men in that resistance to the extension of slavery upon which we all agree. I am afraid that such methods would result in keeping the friends of liberty waiting longer than we ought to. I say this for the purpose of suggesting that we consider whether it would not be better and wiser, so long as we all agree. I am afraid that such methods would result in keeping the friends of liberty waiting longer than we ought to. I say this for the purpose of suggesting that we consider whether it would not be better and wiser, so long as we all agree that this matter of slavery is a moral, political and social wrong, and ought to be treated as a wrong, not to let anything minor or subsidiary to that main principle and purpose make us to fail to cooperate.”
“One other thing, and that again I saw in no spirit of unkindness. There was a question amongst Republicans all the time of the canvass of last year, and it has not quite ceased yet, whether it was not the true and better policy for the Republicans to make it their chief object to reelect Judge Douglas to the Senate of the United States. Now, I differed with those who thought that the true policy, but I have never said an unkind word of any one entertaining that opinion. I believe most of them were as sincerely the friends of our cause as I claim to be myself; yet I thought they were mistaken, and I speak of this now for the purpose of justifying the course that I took and the course of those who supported me. In what I say now there is no unkindness even towards Judge Douglas. I have believed, that in the Republican situation in Illinois, if we, the Republicans of this State, had made Judge Douglas our candidate for the Senate of the United States last year and had elected him, there would to-day be no Republican party in this Union. I believed that the principles around which we have rallied and organized that party would live; they will live under all circumstances, while we will die. They would reproduce another party in the future. But in the meantime all the labor that has been done to build up the present Republican party would be entirely lost, and perhaps twenty years of time, before we would again have formed around that principle as solid, extensive, and formidable an organization as we have, standing shoulder to shoulder to-night in harmony and strength around the Republican banner.”
“It militates not at all against this view to tell us that the Republicans could make something in the State of New York by electing to Congress John B. Haskin, who occupied a position similar to Judge Douglas, or that they could make something by electing Hickman, of Pennsylvania, or David, of Indiana. I think it likely that they could and do make something by it; but it is false logic to assume that for that reason anything could be gained by us in electing Judge Douglas in Illinois. And for this reason: It is no disparagement to these men, Hickman and Davis, to say that individually they were comparatively small men, and the Republican party could take hold of them, use them, elect them, absorb them, expel them, or do whatever it pleased with them, and the Republican organization be in no wise shaken. But it is not so with Judge Douglas. Let the Republican party of Illinois dally with Judge Douglas; let them fall in behind him and make him their candidate, and they do not absorb him; he absorbs them. They would come out at the end all Douglas men, all claimed by him as having indorsed every one of his doctrines upon the great subject with which the whole nation is engaged at this hour – that the question of negro slavery is simply a question of dollars and cents; that the Almighty has drawn a line across the continent, on one side of which labor – the cultivation of the soil – must always be performed by slaves. It would be claimed that we, like him, do not care whether slavery is voted up or voted down. Had we made him our candidate and given him a great majority, we should have never heard an end of declarations by him that we had indorsed all these dogmas. Try it by an example.”
“You all remember that at the last session of Congress there was a measure introduced in the Senate by Mr. [John] Crittenden, which posed that the pro-slavery Lecompton constitution should be left to a vote to be taken in Kansas, and if it and slavery were adopted Kansas should be at once admitted as a slave State. That same measure was introduced into the House by Mr. Montgomery, and therefore got the name of the Crittenden-Montgomery bill; and in the House of Representatives the Republicans all voted for it under the peculiar circumstances in which they found themselves placed. You may remember also that the New York Tribune, which was so much in favor of our electing Judge Douglas to the Senate of the United States, has not yet got through the task of defending the Republican party, after that one vote in the House of Representatives, from the charge of having gone over to the doctrine of popular sovereignty. Now, just how long would the New York Tribune have been in getting rid of the charge that the Republicans had abandoned their principles, if we had taken up Judge Douglas, adopted all his doctrines and elected him to the Senate, when the single vote upon that one point so confused and embarrassed the position of the Republicans that it has kept the Tribune one entire year arguing against the effect of it?”
“This much being said on that point, I wish now to add a word that has a bearing on the future. The Republican principle, the profound central truth that slavery is wrong and ought to be dealt with as a wrong, though we are always to remember the fact of its actual existence amongst us and faithfully observe all the constitutional guarantees – the unalterable principle never for a moment to be lost sight of that it is a wrong and ought to be dealt with as such, cannot advance at all upon Judge Douglas’ ground – that there is a portion of the country in which slavery must always exist; that he does not care whether it is voted up or voted down, as it is simply a question of dollars and cents. Whenever, in any compromise or arrangement or combination that may promise some temporary advantage, we are led upon that ground, then and there the great living principle upon which we have organized as a party is surrendered. The proposition now in our minds that this thing is wrong being once driven out and surrendered, then the institution of slavery necessarily becomes national.”
“One or two words more of what I did not think of when I arose. Suppose it is true that the Almighty has drawn a line across this continent, on the south side of which part of the people will hold the rest as slaves; that the Almighty ordered this; that it is right, unchangeably right, that men ought there to be held as slaves, and that their fellow men will always have the right to hold them as slaves. I ask you, this once admitted, how can you believe that it is not right for us, or for them coming here, to hold slaves on this other side of the line? Once we come to acknowledge that it is right, that it is the law of the Eternal Being, for slavery to exist on one side of that line, have we any sure ground to object to slaves being held on the other side? Once admit the position that a man rightfully holds another man as property on one side of the line, and you must, when it suits his convenience to come to the other side, admit that he has the same right to hold his property there. Once admit Judge Douglas’s proposition and we must all finally give way. Although we may not bring ourselves to the idea that is to our interest to have slaves in this Northern country, we shall soon bring ourselves to admit that, while we may not want them, if any one else does he has the moral right to have them. Step by step – south of the Judge’s moral climate line in the States, then in the Territories everywhere, and then in all the States – it is thus that Judge Douglas would lead us inevitably to the nationalization of slavery. Whether by his doctrine of squatter sovereignty, or by the ground taken by him in his recent speeches in Memphis and through the South, – that wherever the climate makes it in the interest of the inhabitants to encourage slave property, they will pass a slave code – whether it is covertly nationalized, by Congressional legislation, or by the Dred Scott decision, or by the sophistical and misleading doctrine he has last advanced, the same goal is inevitably reached by the one or the other device. It is only traveling to the same place by different roads.”
“In this direction lies all the danger that now exists to the Republican cause. I take it that so far as concerns forcibly establishing slavery in the Territories by Congressional legislation, or by virtue of the Dred Scott decision, that day has passed. Our only serious danger is that we shall be led upon this ground of Judge Douglas, on the delusive assumption that it is a good way of whipping our opponents, when in fact, it is a way that leads straight to final surrender. The Republican party should not dally with Judge Douglas when it knows where his proposition and his leadership would take us, nor be disposed to listen to it because it was best somewhere else to support somebody occupying his ground. That is no just reason why we ought to go over to Judge Douglas, as we were called upon to do last year. Never forget that we have before us this whole matter of the right or wrong of slavery in this Union, though the immediate question is as to its spreading out into new Territories and States.”
“I do not wish to be misunderstood upon this subject of slavery in this country. I suppose it may long exist, and perhaps the best way for it come to an end peaceably is for it to exist for a length of time. But I say that the spread and strengthening and perpetuation of it is an entirely different proposition. There we should in every way resist it as a wrong, treating it as a wrong, with fixed idea that it must and will come to an end. If we do not allow ourselves to be allured from the strict path of our duty by such a device as shifting our ground and throwing ourselves into the rear of a leader who denies our first principle, denies that there is an absolute wrong in the institution of slavery, then the future of the Republican cause is safe and victory is assured. You Republicans of Illinois have deliberately taken your ground; you have heard the whole subject discussed again and again; you have stated your faith, in platforms laid down in a State Convention, and in a National Convention, you have heard and talked over and considered it until you are now all of opinion that you are on a ground of unquestionable right. All you have to do is to keep the faith, to remain steadfast to the right, to stand by your banner. Nothing should lead you to leave your guns. Stand together, ready, with match in hand. Allow nothing to turn you to the right or to the left. Remember how long you have been in setting out on the true course; how long you have been in setting out on the true course; how long you have been in getting your neighbors to understand and believe as you now do. Stand by your principles; stand by your guns; and victory complete and permanent is sure at the last.”27
For the first half of 1859, Mr. Lincoln concentrated on politics, but requests for out-of-state speaking engagements began arriving during the summer. First, Mr. Lincoln took his son Willie along to Chicago in July as part of an inspection tour of the Illinois Central Railroad. They were accompanied by political and legal associates – State Auditor Jesse K. Dubois. Secretary of State Ozias M. Hatch, State Treasurer William Butler, and former law partner Stephen T. Logan. Staying at the Tremont Hotel, Willie wrote: “This town is a very beautiful place… Me and father have a nice little room to ourselves… We have two little pitchers on a washstand. The smallest one for me the largest one for father. We have two little towels on a top of both pitchers. The smallest one for me, the largest one for father.”28
Mr. Lincoln was again in Chicago on his way to Wisconsin on September 28. He stayed at the Tremont House – as he did on his return on October 3 after addressing the Wisconsin Agricultural Society on September 29 and speaking the next day in Beloit and Janesville, Wisconsin. Mr. Lincoln was back in Chicago on November 10, meeting with Illinois Republican State Chairman Norman B. Judd. It was a busy time as Mr. Lincoln explored a possible Republican presidential candidacy and tried to keep the Illinois Republican Party unified for the fall elections. A major problem was a feud between Judd, who was close to the owners of the Chicago Tribune, and John Wentworth, who was engaged in a running fight with the Tribune owners. The feud resulted in a libel suit that Lincoln had to help settle in 1859.
Unlike most of his Chicago allies, Mr. Lincoln had soft spot where Wentworth was concerned. Mr. Lincoln written Henry C. Whitney on December 18, 1857: “Let me to say to you confidentially, that I do not appreciate what the republican papers of Chicago are so constantly saying against Long John. I consider those papers truly devoted to the republican cause, and not unfriendly to me; but I do think that more of what they say against ‘Long John’ is dictated by personal malice than themselves are conscious of. We can not afford to lose the services of ‘Long John’ and I do believe the unrelenting warfare made upon him, is injuring our cause.”29 Wentworth was ambitious and capricious. In 1859 he took positions against Stephen A. Douglas that were interpreted as allying him with the Buchanan Administration – and opened him up to Republican attacks.
By the end of 1859, Mr. Lincoln had to intervene. Wentworth had charged Illinois Republican State Chairman Norman B. Judd with a variety of political offenses and Judd brought suit on December 1 against Wentworth for libel. Most Chicago Republican leaders thought Wentworth was untrustworthy – either to Mr. Lincoln or the Republican Party. Wentworth wrote Mr. Lincoln at the end of November that he wanted to hire Mr. Lincoln as his attorney.
“The moment it is understood that you have been retained by me, that moment the war in Chicago is ended. First, because in putting my case in your hands, I mean to do exactly what is right knowing that you will ask nothing else of me. Second, the other parties, when they find you determined, dare not take the responsibility of keeping up their warfare on me because my views of financial matters differ from theirs.”
“Both Judd and myself are upon the Bond of our Sheriff, and he is greatly affected by matters. He has been to see me several times and several others equally friendly to both of us have insisted with him that I say no more at present. This is hard, as the organs of Peck and Judd keep up their attacks. I have thought much of the matter and finally resolved to put my case in your hands, as having the deepest interest in Republican unity and success. I will not put myself even apparently in the wrong in such a crisis as this.”
“I am a candidate for nothing and ask nothing but a chance to work where I can be the most useful in the ‘irrepressible conflict’. I stand firmly upon the Bloomington platform, my resolution included. All other matters shall be made secondary on your discretion to the peace, unity, and strength of the Republican Party. With this avowal to you, I shall leave my case with you until I hear from you again. Do not be in a hurry in coming to a decision; for I am confident that the longer you reflect upon the matter the more you will be satisfied that you are in a situation to manage it better than any man in Illinois.”30
Judd bitterly wrote Mr. Lincoln on December 1: “I begin to doubt whether there is such a thing as truth in this world and I am satisfied that a man must hunt it up if he wants it – it will scarcely come to him – From the representations that are afloat amongst your friends and believed in by some of them I am induced [sic] to doubt myself – and think is it true that Lincoln has been cheated by me – I thought if it was not true there would be some public denial of it – even at the risk of being thought a friend, of the Man defended – I thought that such friends as [Jesse] Dubois Marshall Sam Parks – Jack Grimshaw – Gillespie and others might be induced by you to open their mouths”
“I notified certain gentleman last fall of the concerted plan to divide the Republican party – and the tools of the originator have been actively engaged in it ever since, and no public note of reproof or censure from those who had the power and influence to correct it.”
“What is the present position of things – I am berated in the news papers slandered in private conversation and the uninitiated made to believe that I cheated you when Trumbull was first elected defeated you when you ran last year, and am now conspiring to advance Trumbull on the Presidential ticket at your expense – and all this without any public defense by you or any of your friends – Men of the “baser sort” making a virtue of having been “old whigs” are perambulating the state retailing these stories and sowing dissension and discord – although it is principally aimed at me Judge T[rumbull] is embraced in the programe for destruction, and if it proceeds much further without being “scotched” there will be trouble and serious trouble – We adjourned last session of the Genl. Assembly, bold defiant, and united except this small crew of mischief makers – To carry out the plan of organization the Com. met at Bloomington.”
“My plans and men were overruled at the instance of this same gang – and I assented to it – (having the power to prevent Phillips and myself) because it was reported that our leading men desired it – The scheme was to get a tool to use (and although I think they have found themselves mistaken in the result) it was none the less a blow at me and one step in advance towards the division sought – And what is the condition of the Committee to day – bankrupt – with a lying insolvent Treasurer, traveling throughout the State and pressing the claims of a man as the standard bearer of the party that you know came very near getting for said insolvent treasurer a large amount of money from the State Treasury – As a member of the Com. I am charged with misappr[op]iating its funds and that same Treasurer referred to as authority and he allows the slander to go uncontradicted – I cannot will not ask men for money so long as things are in this condition – I am ready to make my place on the Committee vacant at any moment and I am not certain but I ought to have done so months ago – I ask no sympathy but I demand justice from those who know that I am wronged – Does not your position in the party require you to right these things? Has ever a party been successful that allowed faithful men to be hunted down by false clamor? I don’t believe I am mistaken in thinking you ought not to stand idly by and see me charged with foul wrong to you, when you know it is unjust – You have friends of long standing to them your influence should extend and they should speak out – You have ambitions, high hopes and brilliant prospects, and no man has or will aid you more faithfully than myself – There is no risk in doing right – I have begun the correction of the wrongs here and have this day put John Wentworth on the record, and have abandoned politics and devoted myself to redress my own wrongs so far as it can be done by punishing the slanderer.”
“There is only one mode of replacing the harmony of the party – and that is John Wentworth is to be driven out or silenced and Charley Wilson S. L. Baker E. T. Bridges and their lying associates kicked into the kennell with the rest of the curs – The first branch I will undertake and the last belongs to you and your friends.”
“My job is heavy – yours is simple – a letter to Charley Wilson for the Journal noticing these charges and correcting them is all is required beyond a request to your personal friends to right me – Will you do it – Upon your answer depends all of my future in politics.31
Wentworth continued to press Mr. Lincoln to defend him in a libel suit launched by Judd: “The very reason that you may assign for declining my offer is the very one that urges me to write you. You are friendly to us both. I prefer to put myself in the hands of mutual friends than like J[udd] put myself in the hands of those who have a deep interest in keeping up a quarrel….If you cannot serve me, do not say so at once; but keep the offer under advisement.” 32
The situation required exquisite diplomacy at an important crossroads in Mr. Lincoln’s life. Wentworth biographer Don E. Fehrenbacher wrote: “As for the invitation to become Wentworth’s counsel in the libel suit, Lincoln neither accepted nor rejected it. Instead, he offered to act as mediator, and early in February he submitted his plan for restoring peace in Chicago. Wentworth was to file with the court a disclaimer worded as followed: I have made no reflection upon Mr. Judd, morally, socially, pecuniarily, professionally, and in no other way, save politically, and if I have used any language capable of a different construction, I have not intended it, and now retract.’ Judd, in return, would be expected to press his suit no further.”33
Wentworth wrote a petulant letter at the end of February in which he charged that Mr. Lincoln’s Chicago friends were backing his Democratic opponent for mayor, Walter S. Gurnee. At the time, Mr. Lincoln was on an extended speaking trip to New York and New England. Wentworth wrote:
“How can you expect to be nominated when your chief commercial city wheels out of line, elects a Douglass Mayor and puts the entire city patronage in the hands of the Border Ruffians.
[Ebenezer] Peck is out and out for the Gurnee ticket; and, although I supported him for the Legislature when nominated at your request as Judd said, he still keeps at his old animosity.
He uses the name of [Lyman] Trumball [sic] as why we beaten.
Judd acts with Peck but so slyly that no one can catch him. Yet we can judge him by his underlings.
Now Lincoln, these men are all afraid of you; and, if you were here, they dare not act so.
If you are our leader, why not do as Douglass [sic] does. He is here by series of letters daily. His good lady is said to have written the highest of the Priesthood stating that if Chicago is carried, her husband is President.
I have got the people, the bone and sinew of the Republican Party with me, and they allmost understand why our Election is not as important to you as to Douglass.
Why should you fear Judd and Peck?
Judge Davis says he has written you at New York. I hope you will come here; but of course I have hardly any reason to expect it. These men have deceived, betrayed and beaten you every time.
They now ask you to leave the State and see your strong hold struck down as a matter of prudence in your party.
If we are beaten at this Election, Mark my prediction that there is no man in the state that will be so much injured as yourself. Then why not come to the rescue?…34
Before he left for New York, Mr. Lincoln had patched up Republican differences sufficiently that Wentworth easily won reelection as mayor in March 1861. Nevertheless, Wentworth was frozen out of the county delegation to the Republican State Convention and the state delegation to the Republican National Convention. His sympathies clearly lay with New York Senator William H. Seward, whom Wentworth thought the clear favorite for the nomination.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Press & Tribune designated Mr. Lincoln as its choice for the Republican presidential nomination. It was not the first newspaper to endorse Mr. Lincoln but it was an important force behind Mr. Lincoln’s presidential candidacy. In mid-February, the newspaper gave four editorial reasons why Mr. Lincoln should be nominated for President:
1. “A gentleman of unimpeachable purity of private life…”
2. “A man of, at once, great breadth and great acuteness of intellect. Not learned, in a bookish sense, but master of great fundamental principles, and of that kind of ability which applies them to crises and events…”
3. Right on the record. An Old Line Whig of the Henry Clay school, originally, he came early to the Republican movement in which he has since been so conspicuous. He has that radicalism which a keen insight into the meaning of the anti-slavery conflict is sure to give; but, coupled with it, that constitutional conservatism which could never fail in proper respect for existing institutions and laws, and which, would never precipitate or sanction innovations more destructive than the abuses that they seek to correct…”
4. A man of executive capacity. Never garrulous, never promising what he cannot perform, never doing anything for show or effect, laboriously attentive to detail, industrious and conscientious, he would see to it that no want of promptness, attention, or industry on his part should defeat the reforms in the administration of national affairs which Republicanism is pledged to inaugurate.35
On February 23, 1860, Mr. Lincoln departed Springfield to deliver his Cooper Union address in New York. One version of his itinerary has him stopping in Chicago where he showed the editors of the Chicago Press and Tribune his manuscript. Lincoln scholar Robert S. Harper wrote: “Lincoln said he would return later to pick up the manuscript. Medill and Ray went to work; one read the speech aloud while the other listened. They made many notes for suggested changes, marking the proof for inserts and revisions. When he returned, he looked over their notes casually, telling them a funny story as he fumbled with the sheets, thanked them for their trouble, rolled up the manuscript, and left the office.”36 Harold Holzer casts doubt on this story, arguing that “it is another of those seemingly indelible Cooper Union myths. Lincoln did not leave his manuscript with Medill in Chicago for the simple reason that he did not travel to Chicago to begin with…He never came close to Chicago.”37
Mr. Lincoln himself did not place a great deal of importance on the location of the Republican National Convention in Chicago in 1860. “I find some of our friends here, attach more consequence to getting the National convention into our State than I did, or so. Some of them made me promise to say so to you,” wrote Mr. Lincoln to Republican State Chairman Norman B. Judd in mid-December. 38 Fortunately for Mr. Lincoln, Judd shared the opinions of Mr. Lincoln’s Springfield friends and adroitly maneuvered the sitting of the convention in Chicago.
Chicago in 1860 was a vibrant but not a fastidious city. Journalist Mary A. Livermore wrote that when she moved to Chicago, it was a city “in which mud, dust, dirt, and smoke seem to predominate. Imagine its appearance in the fifties, when I first beheld it! Michigan Avenue was the only paved street in the city, and the only one with decent sidewalks. Elsewhere the sidewalks were of very simple construction. Scantlings were laid on the prairie soil, to which plans were spiked, and as these soon sank into the ground, green and black slime oozed up between the cracks in wet weather, splashing the face of the pedestrian and befouling his clothes. The drinking water of the city was furnished by the lake…but then it was pumped from the basin inside the breakwater, and was sold by the barrel, and it was not safe to use it until was filtered and boiled. A small section of the South side was lighted by gas; elsewhere some kind of oil was the illuminant for streets and houses.”39
Mrs. Livermore wrote: “In wet weather the streets were rivers of mud; in the dry season they were veritable Saharas of dust. The prairie breeze not only kept the dust in perpetual motion, but caught up the litter and debris strewn about the streets, and sent that whirling through the air in clouds that blinded the eyes, and choked the throat and nostrils. People bore these inflictions with much good nature, because they were optimistic and expected better things in the future.”40 Historian William E. Baringer noted: Chicago streets were peculiar. Only a few blocks were paved with flagstones; all other improved streets and sidewalks were temporarily paved with oak planks. Jerry-built buildings, tossed up in a hurry, were built some high, some low, so the long plan avenues waved up and down, according to the elevation of the flanking buildings. Board sidewalks were interrupted by dozens of ascending and descending steps. Beneath these planks lived millions of sleek rats.”41
In mid-May 1860 Chicago was overwhelmed when delegates, journalists and miscellaneous Republican enthusiasts descended on the city. “The great lobbying center is at the hotel from which I write, Here as many as a thousand people are packed in a hotel which would be full with half the number,” reported the Chicago Daily Herald. “The hotel scenes are abusing at first, but tiresome. It is the same talk about the same men over and over again. Half of it is only buncombe, and the names of men are brought out as candidates without the smallest idea of anything more than a hoax for simple delegates or a verdant editor, which latter tribe is as numerous here as the locusts in Utah. If one wishes to see the provincial journalist in his full effulgence, let him go to a National Convention….”42
The Lincoln headquarters was at the Tremont Hotel. Although Mr. Lincoln himself was back in Springfield, the Tremont was a busy place: Lincoln scholar Melvin L. Hayes wrote: “During convention week, the Tremont’s commissariat revealed, there were consumed 5,220 pounds of beef; 1,620 pounds of hams; 1,229 pounds of chickens, 880 pairs of pigeons; 1,400 pounds of fresh fish; 166 bushels of potatoes; 2,102 dozen eggs; 1,630 gallons of milk; 1,260 pounds of butter; and 1,380 pounds of sugar.”43
Ohio journalist Murat Halstead wrote: “The city of Chicago is attending to this Convention in magnificent style. It is a great place for large hotels, and all have their capacity for accommodation tested. The great feature is the Wigwam, erected within the past month, expressly for the use of the Convention, by the Republicans of Chicago, at a cost of seven thousand dollars. It is a small edition of the New York Crystal Palace, built of boards, and will hold ten thousand persons comfortably – and is admirable for its acoustic excellence. An ordinary voice can be heard through the whole structure with ease.”44
Political scientist P. Orman Ray wrote that “Chicago’s forty-two hotels, with rates from $1.50 to $2.50 a day, were indeed taxed to the limit to take care of even a fraction of all creation. Even billiard tables were made to serve as beds. One observer going the rounds about midnight during the convention found no less than one hundred and thirty person in one hotel glad to find a chance to repose on the tops of billiard tables.”45
Lincoln scholar Frank Farrington wrote: “Up and down the Chicago streets the crowds milled, every corner a rostrum for some stump speaker holding forth for his favorite candidate. Whenever Horace Greeley appeared, that vigorous old fighter was hailed by crowds who knew the ‘New York Tribune,’ no matter where they lived.”46
Supporters of William H. Seward arrived in Chicago en masse. “Upon their arrival they paraded to party headquarters serenaded by their own band and flanked by rollicking ‘Irrepressibles’ under the leadership of Tom Hyer, noted pugilist. Throughout the convention they drank, swore, sang, ridiculed those who were ‘too d-d virtuous,’ and conducted themselves in a manner ‘that would do honor to old Kaintuck on a bust,” noted historian William B. Hesseltine. Unfortunately for Seward, they celebrated before his anticipated victory. Hesseltine speculated on the “damage done by Seward’s alcoholic rooters [to his nomination]. Puritans from New England and sons of Puritans from the Western Reserve were horrified. Most of the old abolitionists were temperance men, and they brought temperance with them into the Republican Party. Staid conservatives, too, were deeply shocked.”47
But Illinois residents were also there en masse. “Thousands of holiday-making Illinoisans overran the city, in the lusty spirit of the occasion yelling, talking, arguing, exhorting in behalf of their good friend Abe Lincoln,” wrote historian William E. Barringer. “Norman Judd had planned this outside pressure when he labored to locate the Convention at Chicago; the Wigwam itself was part of the plot. The word had been quietly passed along that if plain Illinois Republicans wanted to see Lincoln nominated, they could help. Judd asked his personal friends among Republicans if they would come to Chicago and work for Lincoln.” 48 Baringer wrote: “Republicans clubs had during the past week held special meetings to prepare for the convention. Marching Wide-Awake clubs, recently formed, were called into action and new members welcomed. The active Cameron and Lincoln Club was likewise primed to labor for [Simon] Cameron for President and Lincoln for Vice President.”49
Much of the preparatory activity took place at hotels around the city, but the climatic events took place at the Wigwam, a building especially built for the occasion. Historian Allan Nevins wrote: “Chicagoans had a go-ahead spirit. They had raised five thousand dollars, put a little army of carpenters at work on an empty lot at Market and Lake Streets, and thrown up what they called the largest auditorium in the country. The ‘Wigwam’ was useful in itself and valuable as a symbol. Republican leaders hoped to fill the country with big and little wigwams housing party headquarters. The Chicago building, a hundred and eighty by a hundred feet, enclosed a broad wooden platform, a huge rectangular floor facing it, and a spacious gallery running around three sides – the whole seating about ten thousand people….Gray and ugly as the hall was, its abundant windows gave plenty of air and light, its large exits permitted free movement, and it had well-nigh perfect acoustics. Gas lights were ready to furnish a brilliant evening illumination.”50
According to political scientist P. Orman Ray, “In planning the building, advantage was taken of the height of the grade on both Market and Lake streets, about ten feet at that time, to facilitate the construction of a series of wide platforms or landings descending from the three entrances on Market street to the enclosed space for musicians in front of the stage. Upon this series of landings the spectators stood throughout the different sessions, for no seats were provided for the hoi polloi.
“From these landings a good view was had of the deep platform or stage extending the entire width of the building. At each end of the stage were ample committee rooms. Four hundred and sixty-odd delegates and something like sixty newspaper correspondents were seated upon this stage; and here it was that the read drama of the convention was enacted. The location of each state delegation was indicated, as at the present time, by standards bearing placards with the names of the several states printed thereon.”51
Orman wrote: “The chief decoration was naturally bestowed upon the stage. The brick wall at the rear was painted and divided into arched panels in which were colossal statuary paintings of Liberty, Plenty, Justice, etc. The pillars supporting the roof and forming a continuous row along the brick wall, were twined with evergreens and connected with red, white and blue streamers, looped in the middle with evergreens and flowers. On the side of these pillars toward the audience, busts of distinguished men were supported by figures of Atlas. At the west end of the stage hung ‘the elegant and costly standard of the Young Men’s Republican Club of New York. It bore its blazoned stars and legend all complete, save for two blanks following the lines, ‘For President…For Vice-President…’ These blanks, said the Tribune, ‘were eloquent with a purpose, the purpose of the entire convention, all ready for the campaign but waiting for the names.'”52
Lincoln biographer William E. Barton wrote: “The Wigwam had been well decorated by the Republican ladies of Chicago, and dedicated in a union religious service on Sunday night preceding the convention. Patriotic people of Chicago lent chairs. The platform had room for the whole voting membership of the convention; with the delegates, the presiding officers, the secretaries and the newspaper men, it held not far from four hundred people. Nine thousand other people could be and were crowded into the floor space and the galleries.”53
Orman wrote that the “delegates, alternates and hired boosters constituted only a small part of the strangers drawn to Chicago from all parts of the country. Special rates granted by Eastern railroads of $15 for the round trip from Buffalo, tickets good for fifteen days, duplicated after much newspaper prodding by similar concessions from the Wester roads, helped to bring together a number variously estimated by the glowing newspaper imagination at from 75,000 to 125,000. In other words, Chicago’s population may have exactly doubted in that eventful week. More than nine hundred newspaper men applied for seats on the platform as press correspondents, whereas space had been reserved for only sixty.”54
Halstead wrote: “The city of Chicago is attending to this Convention in magnificent style. It is a great place for large hotels, and all have their capacity for accommodation tested. The great feature is the Wigwam, erected within the past month, expressly for the use of the Convention, by the Republicans of Chicago, at a cost of seven thousand dollars. It is a small edition of the New York Crystal Palace, built of boards, and will hold ten thousand persons comfortably – and is admirable for its acoustic excellence. An ordinary voice can be heard through the whole structure with ease.”55
Orman wrote that on the first day of the convention: “At half past, eleven the three twenty-foot doors on Market street were opened, slowly at first and only to ticket holders, and the tide began to flow past the doorkeepers who stood with ‘Roman firmness.’ When all the ticket holders were in, the last barrier was removed at the doors, and one grand rush filled and packed every part of the hall.”56
The Lincoln campaign group did not always play fair. Urbana resident Henry M, Russel recalled aiding Ward Hill Lamon “organize a coup which on bogus visitors’ tickets gained 300 Illinois rooters admission to the Wigwam on the last morning of the convention, and at the same time denied entrance to an equal number of jubilant New Yorkers who, after parading the Chicago streets headed by a bass band, planned to march into the hall and shout for Seward.” 57 The son of Jesse W. Fell, secretary of the Illinois Republican State Committee recalled when the Illinois delegation saw how many Seward supporters had arrived from New York, “Father and the rest of the Committee had a rush meeting, at which it developed that through some underhand work that all the Seward adherents had been furnished tickets of admission and that if they all got in there would be no room for the Lincoln ‘rooters.’ So father suggested that he would have plenty more tickets printed, and that they would be put in the hands of their friends, at the same time cautioning their friends to be on hand early – which was done. Amongst some of the first New York tickets presented at the door were some that were not regular, and as a consequence, the door-keepers held them back until father could be seen, and meanwhile the Lincoln friends were getting the seats, and had done it so well that they concluded to let technicalities go and admit all those holding tickets.”58
“The crowd is this evening becoming prodigious,” Ohio journalist Murat Halstead wrote of the gathering for the Republican National Convention on May 15. “The Tremont House is so crammed that it is with much difficulty people get about it from one room to another. Near fifteen hundred people will sleep in it tonight. The principal lions in this house are Horace Greeley and Frank P. Blair, Sen[ior]. The way Greeley is stared at as he shuffles about, looking as innocent as ever, is itself a sight. Whenever he appears there is a crowd gaping at him, and if he stops to talk a minute with some one who wishes to consult him as the oracle, the crowd becomes dense as possible, and there is the most eager desire to hear the words of wisdom that are supposed to fall on such occasion…”59
Halstead wrote of opening day: “The scenes when the doors of that part of the Wigwam set apart for the masculine public in general, are opened, are highly exciting and amusing. This afternoon the rush for places was tremendous. Three doors about twenty feet wide each, were simultaneously thrown open, and three torrents of men roared in, rushing headlong for front positions. The standing room, holding four thousand five hundred persons, was packed in about five minutes. The galleries, where only gentlemen accompanied by ladies are admitted, and which contains nearly three thousand persons, was already full. There was a great deal of fun, and some curious performances, in filling the galleries. Ladies to accompany gentlemen were in demand – schoolgirls were found on the street, and given a quarter each to see a gentleman safe in. Other girls, those of undoubted character (no doubt on the subject whatever), were much sought after as escorts. One of them being asked to take a gentleman to the gallery, and offered half a dollar for so doing, excused herself by saying she had already taken two men in at each of the three doors, and was afraid of arrest if she carried the enterprise any further. An Irish woman passing with a bundle of clothes under her arm was levied upon by an ‘irrepressible,’ and seeing him safely into the seats reserved for ladies and accompanying gentlemen, retired with her fee and bundle.”60
Lincoln law partner William H. Herndon wrote: “No one who has ever attempted a description of [the convention] has overdrawn its enthusiasm and exciting scenes. Amid all the din and confusion, the curbstone contentions, the promiscuous wrangling of delegates, the deafening roar of the assembled hosts, the contest narrowed down to a neck-and-neck race between the brilliant statesman of Auburn and the less pretentious, but manly railsplitter from the Sangamon bottoms.”61
After three ballots, Mr. Lincoln needed only three votes to clinch the nomination. Ohio provided the needed votes and a flood of other votes were switched before the nomination was made unanimous. The Massachusetts Springfield Daily Republican reported: “The audience, like a wild colt with a bit between its teeth, rose above all cry of order, and again and again the irrepressible applause broke forth and resounded far and wide….The Illinois, Indiana and Ohio delegates seemed wild. They acted like madmen. One smashed his hat on another’s head, who returned the compliment, which was followed by a mutual embrace.” Journalist Mary A. Livermore recalled: “Men embraced each other, and fell on one another’s neck, and wept out their repressed feeling. They threw their hats in air, and almost rent the roof with huzzahs. Thousands and thousands were packed in the streets outside, who stood patiently receiving accounts of the proceedings within, from reporters posted on the roof, listening at the numerous open skylights, and shouting them in detail to the crowd below.”63
Lincoln scholar Frank Farrington wrote: “The scene within the wigwam was repeated without. A man stationed on the roof to relay the result to the waiting crowd, bent over the skylight above the stage to learn what had happened. He could not understand anything said to him by a secretary trying to give him word of the result. At last, waving a tally sheet in one hand, the man below managed to make the watcher above hear his words, ‘Fire the salute. Able Lincoln is nominated!”64 Lincoln biographer Isaac N. Arnold, himself a Chicago resident, wrote: “The cannon was fired, and before its reverberations died away a hundred thousand votes of Illinois and the neighboring states were shouting, screaming, and rejoicing at the results.”65
Lincoln biographer William E. Barton wrote: “It was not easy to nominate [Lincoln] in Chicago; it would have been impossible in any other large city in the United States.”66 Halstead wrote: “The city was wild with delight. The ‘Old Abe’ men formed processions, and bore rails through the streets. Torrents of liquor were poured down the hoarse of the multitude. A hundred guns were fired from the top of the Tremont House. The Chicago Press and Tribune office was illuminated. That paper says: ‘On each side of the counting-room door stood a rail – out of the three thousand split by ‘honest Old Abe’ thirty years ago on the Sangamon River bottoms. On the inside were two more, brilliantly hung with tapers.'” 67 Early Lincoln biographer Josiah G. Holland wrote: “One hundred guns were fired from the top of the Tremont House. Decorated and illuminated rails were around the newspaper offices. All the bars and drinking halls were crowded with men who were either worn out with excitement or made with delight. From Chicago the news spread over the country, and the cannon’s throat responded to the click of the telegraph from Maine to the Mississippi. The outgoing trains that might found bonfires blazing at every village, and excited crowds assembled to cheer the retiring delegates, most of whom were either too weak or too hoarse to respond.”68
Halstead wrote: “I left the city on the night train on the Forest Wayne and Chicago road. The train consisted of eleven cars, every seat full and people standing in the aisles and corners. I never before saw a company of persons so prostrated by continued excitement. The Lincoln men were not able to respond to the cheers which went up along the road for ‘old Abe.’ They had not only done their duty in that respect, but exhausted their capacity. At every station where there was a village, until after two o’clock, there were tar barrels burning, drums beating, boys carrying rails; and guns, great and small, banging away. The weary passengers were allowed no rest, but plagued by the thundering jar of cannon, the clamor of drums, the glare of bonfires, and the whooping of the boys, who were delighted with the idea of a candidate for the Presidency, who thirty years ago split rails on the Sangamon River – classic stream now and for evermore – and whose neighbors named him ‘honest.'”69
With the end of the convention, the campaign’s focus moved elsewhere – particularly to Mr. Lincoln’s home in Springfield. The impact of Chicago journalism, however, remained strong. Mr. Lincoln’s semi-official campaign biography was written by Chicago Tribune journalist John Locke Scripps. He joined Tribune when it merged with his paper, the Chicago Democratic Press in 1858. In 1861 President Lincoln appointed Scripps as postmaster of Chicago at the request of the Tribune owners.
After his election in November 1860, Mr. Lincoln decided that Chicago was a convenient place to hold some political and social meetings. On November 20 1860, President-elect Lincoln and his wife left Springfield for Chicago to meet with Vice President-elect Hannibal Hamlin. Mr. Lincoln was accompanied by two Ohio Republicans, former congressman Robert C. Schenck and journalist Don Piatt, who had been visiting him in Springfield. Also along were Senator Lyman Trumbull and his wife. Historian William E. Barringer wrote: “At the Chicago station there was no demonstration, for few beyond personal friends knew that the President Elect was arriving. The party was met by friends who took them to the Tremont House, where Lincoln found that Hamlin had not yet appeared. By late evening the word had spread that Lincoln was at the Tremont, and a group of Wide Awakes came and serenaded him.”70 Trumbull biographer Ralph J. Roske wrote: “The next day, a travel-stained Hannibal Hamlin appeared in Chicago. He was well-known to Trumbull, as they had occupied adjacent Senate seats. On the first day of talks, Lincoln and Hamlin met alone, but on the second day, they included Trumbull.”71 Mrs. Lincoln used her time in Chicago to meet with friends and shop.
Both the Lincolns and the Hamlins stayed at the Tremont House. Hamlin biographer Mark Scroggins wrote: “The two men fell into easy conversation. Lincoln, as usual, was warm and informal, but vague as to the policies of his impending administration. On the way to Chicago, Hamlin had made up his mind that he was going to get along with Lincoln no matter what… Hamlin was determined to play whatever role Lincoln assigned him. It also must have flattered Hamlin just a little bit that Lincoln wanted to confer with him. He was delighted to find that there was very little pretentiousness about ‘Honest Abe.'”72
The Republican running mates made a short tour of the city – visiting the site of their nomination as well as three federal government buildings – the Court House, the Custom House, and the Post Office. Mr. Lincoln turned down an invitation, however, to visit the “Gallery of the Presidential Portraits from Washington to Lincoln…” at Bryan Hall.73 Hamlin was impressed with the city, calling Chicago a “marvel” in a letter to his wife: “It has a population of 110,000, and has all grown up in twenty-five years. The buildings are magnificent, some of them palaces.”74
While Hamlin and Mr. Lincoln conferred, would be office-seekers learned their whereabouts, leaving their cards at their respective rooms. They had a chance to see the duo in person on Friday, November 23 at a reception for well-wishers at the Tremont House. William E. Baringer wrote: “The tall President Elect was further worn by his habit of bending over to greet, with a two-hand shake, persons of average height, a performance that ‘much resembled the traditionary ‘man-a-mowing.’ On one occasion, after a protracted series of short citizens, the President Elect encountered a man of his own height, ‘raised his hands in well affected astonishment, and exclaimed: ‘You are up some!” This was accompanied by a look that created much merriment’ – Lincoln’s famous quizzical look.”75 The Chicago Tribune reported: “Yielding to the very general desire of our citizens to see the gallant standard-bearers of Republicanism, yesterday morning was fixed upon for a reception in the parlors of the Tremont House, between the hours of 10 and 12. The day was the most inclement of the season thus far, cold, snowing, and with general winter aspects abroad, yet the people were not at home…For two hours and a half hours the crowd moved. Mr. Lincoln shook hands with each. At his right stood Mrs. Lincoln, and next Mr. Lincoln.”76
Pennsylvania journalist Alexander McClure told the story about one attendee: “J. S. Moulton, of Chicago, a master in chancery and influential in public affairs, looked upon the candidacy of Mr. Lincoln for President as something in the nature of a joke. He did not rate the Illinois man in the same class with the giants of the East. In fact he had expressed himself as by no means friendly to the Lincoln cause. Still he had been a good friend to Lincoln and had often met him when the Springfield lawyer came to Chicago. Mr. Lincoln heard of Moulton’s attitude, but did not see Moulton until after the election, when the President-elect came to Chicago and was tendered a reception at one of the big hotels. Moulton went up in the line to pay his respects to the newly-elected chief magistrate, purely as a formality, he explained to his companions. As Moulton came along the line Mr. Lincoln grasped Moulton’s hand with his right, and with his left took the master of chancery by the shoulder and pulled him out of the line. “You don’t belong in that line, Moulton,” said Mr. Lincoln. “You belong here by me.” Everyone at the reception was a witness to the honoring of Moulton. From that hour every faculty that Moulton possessed was at the service of the President. A little act of kindness, skillfully bestowed, had won him; and he stayed on to the end.”77
The reception was followed by political discussions attended by Carl Schurz of Wisconsin and two congressman – Illinois’s William Kellogg and Ohio’s James Gurley. That evening, Senator Lyman Trumbull joined Hamlin and Mr. Lincoln for dinner. Historian Roske wrote: “The early talks had concerned policy, but in the next two days, they concerned Lincoln’s cabinet. Lincoln told the two senators that they would act as his agents in the formation of the cabinet. As a result of this conference, the press widely predicted that Trumbull would serve as the administration Senate spokesman.78
At one point during the visit, according to Lincoln biographer William H. Herndon, “A lady called one day at the hotel where the Lincolns were stopping in Chicago to take Mrs. Lincoln out for a promenade or a drive. She was met in the parlor by Mr. Lincoln who, after a hurried trip up stairs to ascertain the cause of the delay in his wife’s appearance, returned with the report that ‘She will be down as soon as she has all her trotting harness on.'”79
On Saturday, November 24, Trumbull and the Republican ticket closeted themselves at Lake View, the home of Chicago attorney Ebenezer Peck on Fullerton Avenue, for discussions about the Lincoln Administration’s cabinet. Sometime during the discussion, Vice President-elect Hamlin was given the task of finding an appropriate Cabinet representative for New England from a set of candidates that President-elect provided. “If is for you to decide…” Mr. Lincoln told Hamlin.80 The incoming vice president was also charged with feeling out fellow Senator William H. Seward as a possible Secretary of State, a task which he found less congenial to his political taste.
Journalist Henry Villard reported that Mr. Lincoln “openly avowed that the principle object of his trip was to meet the Vice President elect. The position of the New England members of Congress during the next session, and the distribution of the federal offices in Yankeedom, was doubtless the main motive of the interview. All applications for office, from Maine down to Rhode Island, will probably be referred to Mr. Hamlin. Such an arrangement would certainly prove convenient to place seeking new Englanders, who would be enabled to save the heavy expenses of a personal pilgrimage to this place.”81
On Sunday, November 25, Mr. Lincoln went to services at St. James Church in the company of Hamlin and Congressman Isaac N. Arnold. Later, he went to the Mission Sunday School in North Market Hall at the request of John V. Farwell. He went with the understanding that he would not be called upon to make a speech. According to Farwell, Mr. Lincoln “appeared to enjoy the scene exceedingly, while several boys were pointed out to him, who had been reformed from lives of crime and debauchery, and upon taking leave of the school, volunteered a few well chosen remarks, calculated to encourage them all to strive for high positions in society.” Four years later, Farwell recollected Mr. Lincoln’s words:
“My little friends, I am glad to see you in such a place as this, surrounded by men and women who seem to be intent upon nothing but doing you good. While I have never made a profession of religion, I do not hesitate a moment in recommending you to follow the advice of these teachers, and to say to you that the poorest boys among you may aspire to the highest positions in the gift of the people if capacity and energy are linked with honesty in the development of character.”
“I was once a poor boy myself, with perhaps less to encourage me than very many that I see here to day and therefore I could not leave you, without saying a word to inspire your hopes, and sharpen your energies into seeking to make yourselves useful and honored.” 82
The Lincolns also met with Joshua F. Speed and his wife Fanny, who accompanied Mrs. Lincoln on a shopping tour of Chicago. Speed and Mr. Lincoln spent some time in Speed’s hotel room: “For a hour or more we lived over again the scenes of other days. Finally Lincoln threw himself on the bed, and fixing his eyes on a spot in the ceiling asked me this question, ‘Speed, what is your pecuniary condition? Are you rich or poor?” Speed said: “Mr. President, I think I can anticipate what your are going to say. I”ll speak candidly to you on the subject. My pecuniary condition is satisfactory or me now; you would perhaps call it good. I do not think you have within your gift any office I could afford to take.”83 The next morning, it was raining lighting when the Lincolns returned home to Springfield. Soon thereafter, the Wigwam was dismantled.
During the Civil War that framed Mr. Lincoln’s presidency, Chicago leaders tried to make their opinions known and obeyed in Washington. And, during the Civil War, Mr. Lincoln occasionally reprimanded Chicago delegations for hypocrisy. For example, a three-man delegation from Chicago came to the White House in 1864 to object to the state’s new draft allocation. The city was drained of draftable men. Joseph Medill recalled that the delegation first went to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton: “He refused entirely to give us the desired aid. Then we went to Lincoln. ‘I cannot do it,’ he said, ‘but I will go with you to the War Department, and Stanton and I will hear both sides.’ So we all went over to the War Department together. Stanton and General Frye were there, and they, of course, contended that the quota should not be changed. The argument went on for some time, and was finally referred to Lincoln, who had been sitting silently listening.” 84
Mr. Lincoln rebuked the three men generally for not supporting the draft “Gentlemen, after Boston, Chicago has been the chief instrument in bringing this war on the country. It is you who are largely responsible for making blood flow as it has. You called for war until we had it. You called for emancipation, and I have given it to you. Whatever you have asked, you have had. The Northwest has opposed the South as New England has opposed the South. Now you come here begging to be let off from the call for men which I have made to carry out the war you have demanded. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. I have a right to expect better things of you. Go home, and raise your 6,000 extra men. And you, [Joseph] Medill, are acting like a coward. You and your Tribune have had more influence any paper in the Northwest in making this war. You can influence great masses, and yet you cry to be spared at a moment when the cause is suffering. Go home and send us those men.”85
Another delegation led by the Reverends William W. Patton and John Dempters, came to Washington to meet with President Lincoln on Saturday, September 13, 1862. They presented Mr. Lincoln with a memorial favoring emancipation that had been endorsed by a rally of Christians in Chicago. Mr. Lincoln delivered a skeptical reply, even though he would issue his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation only nine days later:
“The subject presented in the memorial is one upon which I have thought much for weeks past, and I may even say for months. I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and that by religious men, who are equally certain that they represent the Divine will. I am sure that either the one or the other class is mistaken in that belief, and perhaps in some respects both. I hope it will be irreverent for me to say that if it is probable that God would reveal his will to others, on a point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed he would reveal it directly to me; for, unless I am more deceived in myself than I often am, it is my earnest desire to know the will of Providence in this matter. And if I can learn what it is I will do it! These are not, however, the days of miracles, and I suppose it will be granted that I am not to expect for a direct revelation. I must study the plain physical facts of the case, ascertain what is possible and learn what appears to be wise and right. The subject is difficult, and good men do not agree. For instance, the other day four gentlemen of standing and intelligence (naming one or two of the number) from New York called, as a delegation, on business connected with the war; but, before leaving, two of them earnestly beset me to proclaim general emancipation, upon which the other two at once attacked them! You know, also, that the last session of Congress had a decided majority of anti-slavery men, yet they could not united on this policy. And the same is true of the religious people. Why, the rebel soldiers are praying with a great deal more earnestness, I fear, than our own troops, and expected God to favor their side; for one of our soldiers, who had been taken prisoner, told Senator Wilson, a few days since, that he met with nothing so discouraging as the evident sincerity of those he was among in their prayers. But we will talk over the merits of the case.”
“What good would a proclamation of emancipation from me do, especially as we are now situated? I do not want to issue a document that the whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative, like the Pope’s bull against the comet! Would my word free the slaves, when I cannot even enforce the Constitution in the rebel States? Is there a single court, or magistrate, or individual that would be influenced by it there? And what reason is there to think it would have any greater effect upon the slaves than the late law of Congress, which I approved, and which offers protection and freedom to the slaves of rebel masters who come within our lines? Yet I cannot learn that that law has caused a single slave to come over to us. And suppose they could be induced by a proclamation of freedom from me to throw themselves upon us, what should we do with them? How can we feed and care for such a multitude? Gen. Butler wrote me a few days since that he was issuing more rations to the slaves who have rushed to him than to all the white troops under his command. They eat, and that is all, though it is true Gen. Butler is feeding the whites also by the thousand; for it nearly amounts to a famine there. If, now, the pressure of the war should call off our forces from New Orleans to defend some other point, what is to prevent the masters from reducing the blacks to slavery again; for I am told that whenever the rebels take any black prisoners, free or slave, they immediately auction them off! They did so with those they took from a boat that was aground in the Tennessee river a few days ago. And then I am very ungenerously attacked for it! For instance, when, after the late battles at and near Bull Run, an expedition went out from Washington under a flag of truce to bury the dead and bring in the wounded, and the rebels seized the blacks who went along to help and sent them into slavery, Horace Greeley said in his paper that the Government would probably do nothing about it. What could I do?” [Here your delegation suggested that this was a gross outrage on a flag of truce, which covers and protects all over which it waves, and that whatever he could do if white men had been similarly detained he could do in this case.] “Now, then, tell me, if you please, what possible result of good would follow the issuing of such a proclamation as you desire? Understand, I raise no objections against it on a legal or constitutional grounds; for, as commander-in-chief of the army and navy, in time of war, I suppose I have a right to take any measure which may best subdue the enemy. Nor do I urge objections of a moral nature, in view of possible consequences of insurrection and massacre at the South. I view the matter as a practical war measure, to be decided upon according to the advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the rebellion.”
“Thus invited, your delegation very willingly made reply to the following effect; it being understood that a portion of the remarks were intermingled in the way of conversation with those of the President just given.”
“We observed (taking up the President’s ideas in order) that good men indeed differed in their opinions on this subject; nevertheless the truth was somewhere, and it was a matter of solemn moment for him to ascertain it; that we had not been so wanting in respect, alike to ourselves and to him, as to come a thousand miles to bring merely our opinion be set over against the opinion of other parties; that the memorial contained facts, principles, and arguments which appealed to the intelligence of the President and to his faith in Divine Providence; that he could not deny that the Bible denounced oppression as one of the highest crimes, threatened Divine judgments against nations that practice it; that our country had been exceedingly guilty in this respect, both at the North and South; that our just punishment has come by a slaveholder’s rebellion; that the virus of secession is found wherever the virus of slavery extends, and no farther; so that there is the amplest reason for expecting to avert Divine judgments by putting away the sin, and for hoping to remedy the national troubles by striking at their cause.”
“We observed, further that we freely admitted the probability, and even the certainty, that God would reveal the path of duty to the President as well as to others; provided he sought to learn it in the appointed way; but, as according to his own remark, Providence wrought by means not miraculously, it might be, God would use the suggestions and arguments of other minds to secure that result. We felt the deepest personal interest in the matter as of national concern, and would fain aid the thoughts of our President by communicating the convictions of the Christian community from which we came, with the ground upon which they were based.”
“That is true he could not now enforce the Constitution at the South; but we could see in that fact no reason whatever for not proclaiming emancipation, but rather the contrary. The two appealed to different classes; the latter would aid, and in truth was necessary to re-establish the former; and the two could be made operative together as fast as our armies fought their way southward; while we had yet to hear that he proposed to abandon the Constitution because of present difficulty of enforcing it.”
“As to the inability of Congress to agree on this policy at the late session, it was quite possible, in view of subsequent events, there might be more unanimity at another meeting. The members have met their constituents and learned of marvellous conversions to the wisdom of emancipation, especially since late reverse have awakened thought as to the extreme peril of the nation, and made bad men as well as good men realize that we have to deal with God in this matter. Men of the most opposite previous views were now uniting in calling for this measure.”
“That to proclaim emancipation would secure the sympathy of Europe and the whole civilized world, which now saw no other reason for the strife than national pride and ambition, an unwillingness to abridge our domain and power. No other step would be so potent to prevent foreign intervention.”
“Furthermore, it would send a thrill through the entire North, firing every patriotic heart, giving the people a glorious principle for which to suffer and to fight, and assuring them that the work was to be so thoroughly done as to leave our country free forever from danger and disgrace in this quarter.”
“We added, that when the proclamation should become widely known (as the law of Congress not been) it would withdraw the slaves from the rebels, leaving them without laborers and soldiers. That the difficulty experienced by Gen. Butler and other Generals arose from the fact that half-way measures could never avail. It is the inherent vice of half-way measures that they create as many difficulties as they remove. It is folly merely to receive and feed the slaves. They should be welcomed and fed, and then, according to Paul’s doctrine, that they who eat must work, be made to labor and to fight for their liberty and ours. With such a policy the blacks would be no incumbrance and their rations no waste. In this respect we should follow the ancient maxim, and learn of the enemy. What the rebels most fear is what we should be most prompt to do; and what they most fear is evident from the hot haste with which, on the first day of the present session of the Rebel Congress, bills were introduced threatening terrible vengeance if we used the blacks in the war.”
The President rejoined from time to time in about these terms:
“I admit that slavery is the root of the rebellion, or at least its sine qua non. The ambition of politicians may have instigated them to act, but they would have been impotent without slavery as their instrument. I will also concede that emancipation would help us in Europe, and convince them that we are incited by something more than ambition. I grant further that it would help somewhat at the North, though not so much, I fear, as you and those you represent imagine. Still, some additional strength would be added in that way to the war. And then unquestionably it would weaken the rebels by drawing off their laborers, which is of great importance. But I am not so sure we could do much with the blacks. If we were to arm them, I fear that in a few weeks the arms would be in the hands of the rebels; and indeed thus far we have not had arms enough to equip our white troops. I will mention another thing, though it meet only your scorn and contempt: There are fifty thousand bayonets in the Union armies from the Border Slave States. It would be a serious matter if, in consequence of a proclamation such as you desire, they should go over to the rebels. I do not think they all would – not so many indeed as a year ago, or as six months ago – not so many to-day as yesterday. Every day increases their Union feeling. They are also getting their pride enlisted, and want to beat the rebels. Let me say one thing more: I think you should admit that we already have an important principle to rally and unite the people in the fact that constitutional government is at stake. This is a fundamental idea, going down about as deep as any thing.”
“We answered that, being fresh from the people, we were naturally more hopeful than himself as to the necessity and probably effect of such a proclamation. The value of constitutional government is indeed a grand idea for which to contend; but the people know that nothing else has put constitutional government in danger but slavery; that the toleration of that aristocratic and despotic element among our free institutions was the inconsistency that had nearly wrought our ruin and caused free government to appear a failure before the world, and therefore the people demand emancipation to preserve and perpetuate constitutional government. Our idea would thus be found to go deeper than this, and to be armed with corresponding power. (“Yes,” interrupted Mr. Lincoln, “that is the true ground of our difficulties.”) That a proclamation of general emancipation, “giving Liberty and Union” as the national watch-word, would rouse the people and rally them to his support beyond any thing yet witnessed – appealing alike to conscience, sentiment and hope. He must remember, too, that present manifestations are no index [?????] of what would then take place. If the leader will but utter a trumpet call the nation will respond with patriotic ardor. No one can tell the power of the right word from the right man to develop the latent fire and enthusiasm of the masses. (“I know it,” exclaimed Mr. Lincoln.) That good sense must of course be exercised in drilling, arming and using black as well as white troops to make them efficient; and that in a scarcity of arms it was at least worthy of inquiry whether it were not wise to place a portion of them in the hands of those nearest to the seat of the rebellion and able to strike the deadliest blow.”
“That in case of a proclamation of emancipation we had no fear of serious injury from the desertion of Border State troops. The danger was greatly diminished, as the President had admitted. But let the desertions be what they might, the increased spirit of the North would replace them two to one. One State alone, if necessary, would compensate the loss, were the whole 50,000 to join the enemy. The struggle has gone too far, and cost too much treasure and blood, to allow of a partial settlement. Let the line be drawn at the same time between freedom and slavery, and between loyalty and treason. The sooner we know who are our enemies the better.”
“In bringing our interview to a close, after an hour of earnest and frank discussion, of which the foregoing is a specimen, Mr. Lincoln remarked: “Do not misunderstood me, because I have mentioned these objections. They indicate the difficulties that have thus far prevented my action in some such way as you desire. I have not decided against a proclamation of liberty to the slaves, but hold the matter under advisement. And I can assure you that the subject is on my mind, by day and night, more than any other. Whatever shall appear to be God’s will I will do. I trust that, in the freedom with which I have canvassed your views, I have not in any respect injured your feelings.”86
Lincoln biographer William E. Barton wrote: “This interview has been much misrepresented, and it has been declared that these ministers undertook to tell Mr. Lincoln what God wanted him to do. A careful account of the meeting, however, it among the papers of the papers of the Maryland Historical Society, and it shows that while Mr. Lincoln shrewdly catechized these brethren, he gained from them precisely the knowledge which he wanted, which was that the sentiment of the churches represented by these ministers was such as to sustain the President in issuing his Proclamation of Emancipation.” 87
On September 22, President Lincoln indeed issued the draft Emancipation Proclamation, a final version of which was issued on January 1, 1863. In late October 1863, a fair was held in Chicago for the support of the U.S. Sanitary Commission. On October 11, one of the founders of the Northwestern Branch of the Sanitary Commission, Mary A. Livermore, wrote Mr. Lincoln: “The Executive Committee have been urgently requested to solicit from Mrs. Lincoln and yourself some donation to this great Fair – not so much for the value of the gift, as for the eclat which this circumstance would give to the Fair. It has been suggested to us from various quarters that the most acceptable donation you could possibly make, would be the original manuscript of the Proclamation of emancipation, and I have been instructed to ask for this, if it is at all consistent with what is proper, for you to donate it. There would be great competition among buyers to obtain possession of it, and to say nothing of the interest that would attach to such a gift, it would prove pecuniarily of great value. We should take pains to have such an arrangement made as would place the document permanently in either the State or the Chicago Historical Society.”88
Others also apparently urged Mr. Lincoln donate the proclamation – including Judge Thomas B. Bryan and Congressmen Owen Lovejoy and Isaac N. Arnold. President Lincoln wrote to the “Ladies in Charge of North-Western Sanitary Fair” on October 26:
“According to the request made in your behalf, the original draft of the Emancipation proclamation is herewith enclosed – The formal words at the top, and the conclusion, except the signature, you perceive are not in my hand-writing. They were written at the State Department by whom I know not.”
“The printed part was cut from a copy of the preliminary proclamation, and pasted on merely to save writing – ”
“I had some desire to retain the paper; but if it shall contribute to the relief or comfort of the soldiers that will be better[.]” 89
Mrs. Livermore and Mrs. A. H. Hoge wrote the President after the fair: “Among the many remarkable incidents of our recent Fair, not one has been more pleasant, than the duty that devolves upon us of consigning to you, on this National Thanksgiving Day, the accompanying watch; by asking you to accept it as a memorial of the Ladies N. Western Fair. During the progress of the Fair, Mr. James H. Hoes, Jeweller of Chicago, a most loyal and liberal man, after giving very largely himself, in order to stimulate donations from others, proposed through the columns of the Tribune, to give a gold watch to the largest contributor to the Fair – “Thou art the man” – Your glorious Emancipation Proclamation, world wide in its interests and results, was sold for $3000, the largest benefaction of any individual… ”
“This termination seems to be all that was needed, to complete the history of this remarkable Fair – The little one has become a thousand. I have the pleasure to announce to you that the precious Document, has already become the corner-stone of a permanent Home, for Illinois soldiers – It will also be its cap-sheaff and glory – It will be built in a frame, in the wall of this noble Institution, & stand a lasting monument, of your wisdom, patriotism, liberality and fatherly tenderness, for the brave boys, who at your call, so promptly “rallied round the flag”, and so gallantly defended it. May the God of peace be with you, as the God of battles has prospered you – may the God of Jacob be your Counsellor, is the earnest prayer, of your grateful friends and admirers.”90
Judge Bryan, who actually brought the proclamation himself, recalled, “The paper was put up at auction and brought $3,000. The buyer afterward sold it again to friends of Mr. Lincoln at a greatly advanced price, and it was placed in the rooms of the Chicago Historical Society, where it was burned in the great fire of 1871.”91
Two years later, a second sanitary fair was planned
for Chicago. In March 1865, Mary A. Livermore met with President Lincoln and told him that “there is no escape from this fair, Mr. Lincoln, and this will probably be the last of them. The Northwest won’t listen to your declining; and the ladies of Chicago are circulating a letter of invitation to you, which will have ten thousand signatures of women alone. The whole Northwest proposes to come to Chicago to see you; and the desire is so general and urgent that you must not feel like declining.”92
Mrs. Livermore later recalled that had President Lincoln arrived in Chicago in late May, “the great Northwest would have prepared for him a brilliant welcome. Then with great shouts rending the air, with salvos of artillery, with thrilling strains of triumphant music, with songs and ovations from old and young, from children and maidens, with flowers and costly gifts, and with overflowing hearts, it had hoped to testify the almost idolatrous love it bore him.”93 But Chicagoans would have to settle for a mournful alternative – paying tribute to the funeral bier of Abraham Lincoln as it passed through the city on May 1-3, 1865.
After several years abroad, Mr. Lincoln’s widow returned in the early summer of 1871 to Chicago, where oldest son Robert Todd Lincoln had settled to practice law. Youngest son Tad Lincoln struggled with a lung problem, and on July 15, he died, probably of pneumonia. He was just 18 years old. As his father had foreseen, a Lincoln would die in Chicago.
- Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, editors, Herndon’s Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln (David Davis interview with William H. Herndon, September 20, 1866), p. 349.
- William E. Barton, The Influence of Chicago Upon Abraham Lincoln, p. 10.
- Allen Thordike Ride, editor, Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln by Distinguished Men of his Time, p. 16. (Elihu B. Washburne).
- William E. Barringer, editor, Lincoln Day by Day, (New York Tribune, July 17, 1847), Volume I, p. 291.
- William E. Barringer, editor, Lincoln Day by Day, Volume I, p. 322 (Chicago Journal, October 7, 1848).
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln,Volume II, p. 11 ( Speech at Chicago, Illinois, October 6, 1848).
- Henry Clay Whitney, Life on the Circuit with Lincoln, p. 461.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, pp. 87-90 (Excerpts from Eulogy on Zachary Taylor, July 25, 1850).
- William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, Herndon’s Life of Abraham Lincoln, pp. 265-267.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, pp. 283-284 (Chicago Journal, October 30, 1854).
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, p. 293 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Elihu B. Washburne, December 14, 1854).
- Blaine Brooks Gernon, The Lincolns in Chicago, p. 21.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln,, Volume II, p. 347 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Henry C. Whitney, July 9, 1856).
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, pp. 348-349 (Chicago Democratic Press, July 21, 1856).
- Albert Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, p. 445.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, pp. 383-385 (Speech at a Republican Banquet, Chicago, Illinois, December 10, 1856 – Chicago Democratic Press, December 11, 1856 and Illinois State Journal, December 16, 1856).
- William E. Barringer, editor, Lincoln Day by Day, Volume I, p. 190 (Chicago Democratic Press, March 2, 1857).
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Notes for Speech at Chicago, February 28, 1857, Volume II, pp. 390-391.
- Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor, Intimate Memories of Lincoln, p. 84 (Frederick G. Saltonstall, Century Magazine, February 1897).
- Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor, Intimate Memories of Lincoln, , p. 85 (Frederick G. Saltonstall, Century Magazine, February 1897).
- Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln,, Volume I, p. 357.
- William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, Herndon’s Life of Abraham Lincoln, pp. 327-328.
- Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor, Intimate Memories of Lincoln, pp. 203-204 (Abram E. Smith, Woodstock, Illinois, February 12, 1909).
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln,Volume II, pp. 484-502 ( Speech at Chicago, Illinois, July 10, 1858).
- William E. Baringer, editor, Lincoln Day by Day, p. 221 (Chicago Tribune, 12 July 1858).
- Albert Beveridge, Abraham Lincoln,, Volume II, p. 623.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume III, pp. 365-370 (Speech at Chicago, Illinois, March 1, 1859).
- Ruth Painter Randall, Lincoln’s Sons, pp. 42-43.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, p. 429 (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Henry C. Whitney, December 18, 1857).
- Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Letter from John Wentworth to Abraham Lincoln, November 28, 1859).
- Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Letter from Norman B. Judd to Abraham Lincoln, December 1, 1859).
- Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Letter from John Wentworth to Abraham Lincoln, December 21, 1859).
- Don E. Fehrenbacher, Chicago Giant, pp. 171-172.
- Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Letter from John Wentworth to Abraham Lincoln, February 27, 1860).
- Herbert Mitgang, editor, “Lincoln as They Saw Him,” Chicago Tribune, February 16, 1860, pp. 153-54.
- Robert S. Harper, Lincoln and the Press, pp. 44-45.
- Harold Holzer, Lincoln at Cooper Union, p. 60.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Norman B. Judd, December 14, 1859, Volume III, p. 509.
- Mary A. Livermore, The Story of My Life, pp. 457-458.
- Mary A. Livermore, The Story of My Life, p. 458.
- William E. Baringer, Lincoln’s Rise to Power, p. 209.
- Melvin L. Hayes, Mr. Lincoln Runs for President, pp. 40-41.
- Melvin L. Hayes, Mr. Lincoln Runs for President, p. 49.
- Paul M. Angle and Earl Schenck Miers, editors, Fire the Salute: Murat Halstead Report the Republican National Convention in Chicago, May 16, 17, & 18, 1860, p. 5.
- P. Orman Ray, The Convention That Nominated Lincoln, p. 11.
- Frank Farrington, The Nomination of Abraham Lincoln.
- William B. Hesseltine, Lincoln and the War Governors, pp. 54-55.
- William E. Barringer, Lincoln’s Rise to Power, p. 219.
- William E. Barringer, Lincoln’s Rise to Power, p. 210.
- Allan Nevins, The Emergence of Lincoln: Prologue to Civil War 1859-1861, Volume II, pp. 248-249.
- P. Orman Ray, The Convention That Nominated Lincoln, p. 6.
- P. Orman Ray, The Convention That Nominated Lincoln,
- William E. Barton, President Lincoln, Volume I, p. 92.
- P. Orman Ray, The Convention That Nominated Lincoln, p. 15.
- Paul M. Angle and Earl Schenck Miers, editors, Fire the Salute: Murat Halstead Report the Republican National Convention in Chicago, May 16, 17, & 18, 1860, p. 5.
- P. Orman Ray, The Convention That Nominated Lincoln, p. 16.
- Rufus Rockwell Wilson, editor, Intimate Memories of Lincoln, (Henry M, Russel Illinois State Journal, January 26, 1909), p. 125.
- Reinhard H. Luthin, The First Lincoln Campaign, p. 161.
- Paul M. Angle and Earl Schenck Miers, editors, Fire the Salute: Murat Halstead Report the Republican National Convention in Chicago, May 16, 17, & 18, 1860, pp. 4-5.
- Paul M. Angle and Earl Schenck Miers, editors, Fire the Salute: Murat Halstead Report the Republican National Convention in Chicago, May 16, 17, & 18, 1860, p. 147.
- William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, Herndon’s Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 373.
- Melvin L. Hayes, Mr. Lincoln Runs for President, (Springfield, Massachusetts Daily Republican), p. 62.
- Mary A. Livermore, My Story of the War, p. 551.
- Frank Farrington, The Nomination of Abraham Lincoln.
- Isaac N. Arnold, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 169.
- William E. Barton, The Influence of Chicago Upon Abraham Lincoln, p. 52.
- Paul M. Angle and Earl Schenck Miers, editors, Fire the Salute: Murat Halstead Report the Republican National Convention in Chicago, May 16, 17, & 18, 1860, p. 52.
- Josiah G. Holland, Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 227.
- Paul M. Angle and Earl Schenck Miers, editors, Fire the Salute: Murat Halstead Report the Republican National Convention in Chicago, May 16, 17, & 18, 1860, p. 52.
- William E. Barringer, House Dividing: Lincoln as President Elect,
- Ralph J. Roske, His Own Counsel: The Life and Times of Lyman Trumbull, p, 62.
- Mark Scroggins, Hannibal: The Life of Abraham Lincoln’s First Vice President, p. 147.
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln ,Volume IV, p. 144 (Endorsement on letter from Thomas B. Bryant to Abraham Lincoln, November 22, 1860).
- Mark Scroggins, Hannibal: The Life of Abraham Lincoln’s First Vice President, p. 147.
- William E. Barringer, House Dividing: Lincoln as President Elect, p. 82.
- William E. Barton, The Influence of Chicago Upon Abraham Lincoln, p. 25 (Chicago Tribune, November 24, 1860.
- Alexander K. McClure, Lincoln’s Yarns and Stories, p. 328.
- Ralph J. Roske, His Own Counsel: The Life and Times of Lyman Trumbull, p, 62.
- William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, Herndon’s Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 385.
- Mark Scroggins, Hannibal: The Life of Abraham Lincoln’s First Vice President, p. 149.
- William Baringer, A House Dividing, p. 89 (New York Herald, December 2, 1860).
- Allen C. Guelzo, “Holland’s Informants: The Construction of Josiah Holland’s Life of Abraham Lincoln,” Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Winter 2002, p. 37.
- William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik, Herndon’s Life of Abraham Lincoln, pp. 385-386.
- Alexander K. McClure, Lincoln’s Own Yarns and Stories, pp. 103-104.
- Don E. and Virginia Fehrenbacher, editors, Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln, p. 326 (Ida M. Tarbell interview with Joseph Medill, June 25, 1895).
- Roy P. Basler, editor, Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln , Volume V, pp. 419-425 (Reply to Chicago Clergy, September 15, 1862).
- William E. Barton, The Influence of Chicago Upon Abraham Lincoln, p. 51.
- Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Letter from Mary A. Livermore to Abraham Lincoln, October 11, 1863).
- Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Ladies of the Northwestern Sanity Fair, October 26, 1863).
- Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress: Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Letter from Mary A. Livermore to Abraham Lincoln, November 26, 1863)./li>
- Alexander K. McClure, Lincoln’s Own Yarns and Stories, p. 204.
- Mary A. Livermore, My Story of the War, p. 580.
- Mary A. Livermore, My Story of the War, p. 585.