ON BOTH SIDES PROBLEMS WITH MINISTERS IN ST. LOUIS
“I can best illustrate my position in regard to your St. Louis quarrel by telling a story. A man in Illinois had a large watermelon patch, on which he hoped to make money enough to carry him over the year. A big hog broke through the log fence nearly every night, and the melons were gradually disappearing. At length the farmer told his son John to get out the guns, and they would promptly dispose of the disturber of their melon patch. They followed the tracks to the neighboring creek, where they disappeared. They discovered them on the opposite bank, and waded through. They kept on the trail a couple of hundred yards, when the tracks again went into the creek, but promptly turned upon on the other side. Once more the hunters buffeted the mud and water, and again struck the lead and pushed on a few furlongs, when the tracks made another dive into the creek. Out of breath and patience, the farmer said, ‘John you cross over and go up on that side of the creek, and I’ll keep up on this side, for I believe the old fellow is on both sides.” “Gentlemen,” concluded Mr. Lincoln, “that is just where I stand in regard to your controversies in St. Louis. I am on both sides. I can’t allow my Generals to run the churches, and I can’t allow your ministers to preach rebellion.”
Emanuel Hertz, Anecdotes By & About Abraham Lincoln, p. 92-93.