MR. LINCOLN AND THE PRESIDENCY.
THE CAMPAIGN OF 1859 IN OHIO. - MR. LINCOLN'S SPEECHES AT COLUMBUS
AND CINCINNATI. - HIS VISIT TO THE EAST. - IN NEW YORK CITY. - THE
GREAT SPEECH AT COOPER INSTITUTE. - MR. LINCOLN NOMINATED FOB
THE PRESIDENCY. - HIS ELECTION.
CHEERFULLY resigning himself to the fortunes of political warfare, Mr. Lincoln, upon the close of this canvass,
returned to the practice of his profession. But he was
not long allowed to remain in retirement. In the autumn
of 1859 the Democrats of Ohio nominated Mr. Pugh as
their candidate for governor, and to repay the fidelity
with which he had followed his standard, as well as in
the hope of securing important advantages for the democracy, Mr. Douglas was enlisted in the canvass. The
Republicans at once appealed to Mr. Lincoln to come to
their assistance. He promptly responded to the invitation to meet his old
antagonist, and more than sustained his great reputation by two
speeches, one delivered at Columbus and the other at Cincinnati. Not
fully satisfied with the position in which the close of the canvass in
Illinois had left his favorite doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, Mr.
Douglas had secured the insertion in Harper's Magazine of an elaborate
and carefully prepared article explaining his views at length. Mr.
Lincoln' s speech at Columbus was a most masterly review of this paper.
After replying briefly to the identically stale charges which Mr.
Douglas had so often repeated during the canvass in
Illinois, and which he had reiterated in a speech delivered at Columbus
a few days previously, Mr. Lincoln addressed himself to the task he had
in hand, as follows:
The Republican party, as I understand its principles and policy, believe
that there is great danger of the institution of slavery being spread
out and extended, until it is ultimately made alike lawful in all the States
this Union; so believing, to prevent that incidental and ultimate
consummation, is the original and chief purpose of the Republican
I say " chief purpose" of the Republican organization; for it is
true that if the National House shall fall into the hands of the
they will have to attend to all the other matters of national
house-keeping as well as this. The chief and real purpose of the Republican party
is eminently conservative. It proposes nothing save and except to
this Government to its original tone in regard to this element of
and there to maintain it, looking for no further change in reference to
than that which the original framers of the Government themselves expected and looked forward to.
The chief danger to this purpose of the Republican party is not just
now the revival of the African slave-trade, or the passage of a Congressional slave-code, or the declaring of a second Dred Scott decision,
slavery lawful in all the States. These are not pressing us just now.
They are not quite ready yet. The authors of these measures know that
we are too strong for them; but they will be upon us in due time, and
will be grappling with them hand to hand, if they are not now headed
They are not now the chief danger to the purpose of the Republican
organization; but the most imminent danger that now threatens that purpose is that insidious Douglas Popular Sovereignty. This is the miner
and sapper. While it does not propose to revive the African slave-trade,
nor to pass a slave-code, nor to make a second Dred Scott decision, it
preparing us for the onslaught and charge of these ultimate enemies when
they shall be ready to come on, and the word of command for them to
advance shall be given. I say this Douglas Popular Sovereignty for
there is a broad distinction, as I now understand it, between that
and a genuine Popular Sovereignty.
I believe there is a genuine popular sovereignty. I think a definition
of genuine popular sovereignty, in the abstract, would be about this:
That each man shall do precisely as he pleases with himself, and with
those things which exclusively concern him. Applied to Government,
this principle would be, that a General Government shall do all those
things which pertain to it, and all the local Governments shall do precisely as they please in respect to those matters which exclusively
them. I understand that this Government of the United States, under
which we live, is based upon this principle; and I am misunderstood if
it is supposed that I have any war to make upon that principle.
Now, what is Judge Douglas's Popular Sovereignty? It is, as a principle, no other than that, if one man chooses to make a slave of another
man, neither that other man nor anybody else has a right to object.
Applied in Government, as he seeks to apply it, it is this: If, in anew
Territory into which a few people are beginning to enter for the purpose
of making their homes, they choose to either exclude slavery from their
limits or to establish it there, however one or the other may affect the
persons to be enslaved, or the infinitely greater number of persons who
are afterward to inhabit that Territory, or the other members of the
families of communities, of which they are but an incipient member, or the
general head of the family of States, as parent of all however their
may affect one or the other of these, there is no power or right to
interfere. That is Douglas's Popular Sovereignty applied.
He has a good deal of trouble with Popular Sovereignty. His explanations explanatory of explanations explained are interminable. The most
lengthy, and, as I suppose, the most maturely considered of his long
of explanations, is his great essay in Harper's Magazine.
exordium was followed by a speech which will rank among the ablest
efforts of Mr. Lincoln. In an argument in which great sarcasm and humor
were characteristically intermingled, he thoroughly exposed the fallacy
of the positions taken by Mr. Douglas, and in conclusion, after again
warning his hearers against the insidious dangers of this doctrine of
popular sovereignty, said:
Did you ever, five years ago, hear of anybody in the world saying that
the negro had no share in the Declaration of National Independence;
it did not mean negroes at all; and when " all men " were spoken of,
negroes were not included?
I am satisfied that five years ago that proposition was not put upon
paper by any living being anywhere. I have been unable at any time
to find a man in an audience who would declare that he had ever known
of anybody saying so five years ago. But last year there was not a
Douglas popular sovereign in Illinois who did not say it. Is there one
Ohio but declares his firm belief that the Declaration of Independence
not mean negroes at all? I do not know how this is; I have not been
here much; but I presume you are very much alike everywhere. Then
I suppose that all now express the belief that the Declaration of Independence never did mean negroes. I call upon one of them to say that
he said it five years ago.
If you think that now, and did not think it then, the next thing that
strikes me is to remark that there has been a change wrought in you, and
a very significant change it is, being no less than changing the negro,
your estimation, from the rank of a man to that of a brute. They are
taking him down, and placing him, when spoken of, among reptiles and
crocodiles, as Judge Douglas himself expresses it.
Is not this change wrought in your minds a very important change?
Public opinion in this country is every thing. In a nation like ours,
popular sovereignty and squatter sovereignty have already wrought a change in the public mind to the extent I have stated. There is no man
in this crowd who can contradict it.
Now, if you are opposed to slavery honestly, as much as anybody, i
ask you to note that fact, and the like of which, is to follow, to be
plastered on, layer after layer, until very soon you are prepared to
deal with the negro everywhere as with the brute. If public sentiment has not been debauched already to this point, a new turn of
the screw in that direction is all that is wanting; and this is constantly being done by the teachers of this insidious popular
You need but one or two turns further until your minds, now ripening
under these teachings, will be ready for all these things, and you will
receive and support, or submit to, the slave-trade, revived with all its
horrors, a slave-code enforced in our Territories, and a new Dred Scott
decision to bring slavery up into the very heart of the free North.
I must say, is but carrying out those words prophetically spoken by Mr.
Clay, many, many years ago I believe more than thirty years, when he
told an audience that if they would repress all tendencies to liberty
ultimate emancipation, they must go back to the era of our independence,
and muzzle the cannon which thundered its annual joyous return on the
Fourth of July; they must blow out the moral lights around us; they
must penetrate the human soul and eradicate the love of liberty; but
they did these things, and others eloquently enumerated by him, they
could not repress all tendencies to ultimate emancipation.
I ask attention to the fact that in a pre-eminent degree these popular
sovereigns are at this work; blowing out the moral lights around us;
teaching that the negro is no longer a man, but a brute; that the
Declaration has nothing to do with him; that he ranks with the crocodile and
the reptile; that man, with body and soul, is a matter of dollars and
cents. I suggest to this portion of the Ohio Republicans, or Democrats,
if there be any present, the serious consideration of this fact, that
now going on among you a steady process of debauching public opinion
on this subject. "With this, my friends, Ibid you adieu.
In his speech at Cincinnati, Mr. Lincoln addressed himself particularly
to the Kentuckians whom he supposed to be among his hearers, and after
advising them to nominate Mr. Douglas as their candidate for the
Presidency at the approaching Charleston Convention, showed them how by
so doing they would the most surely protect their cherished institution
of slavery. In the course of, his argument he expressed this shrewd
opinion, which may now be classed as a prophecy:
It is but my opinion; I give it to you without a fee. It is my opinion
that it is for you to take him [Mr. Douglas] or be defeated; and that if
you do take him, you may be beaten. You will surely be beaten if you
do not take him. We, the Republicans and others forming the opposition
of the country, intend to "standby our guns," to be patient and firm,
in the long run to beat you, whether you take him or not. We know that
before we fairly beat you, we have to beat you both together. We know
that you are "all of a feather," and that we have to beat you
and we expect to do it. We don't intend to be very impatient about it.
We mean to be as deliberate and calm about it as it is possible to be,
as firm and resolved as it is possible for men to be. When we do as we
say, beat you, you perhaps want to know what we will do with you.
I will tell you, so far as I am authorized to speak for the opposition,
what we mean to do with you. We mean to treat you, as near as we
possibly can, as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison treated you. We
mean to leave you alone, and in no way to interfere with your
to abide by all and every compromise of the Constitution, and, in a
coming back to the original proposition, to treat you, so far as
degenerated men (if we have degenerated) may, according to the examples of
those noble fathers Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. We mean to
remember that you are as good as we; that there is no difference between
us other than the difference of circumstances. We mean to recognize and
bear in mind always that you have as good hearts in your bosoms as other
people, or as we claim to have, and treat you accordingly. We mean to
marry your girls when we have a chance the white ones, I mean, and I
have the honor to inform you that I once did have a chance in that way.
I have told you what we mean to do. I want to know, now, when
that thing takes place, what do you mean to do? I often hear it intimated that you mean to divide the Union whenever a Republican, or any
thing like it, is elected President of the United States. [A voice "
is so."] " That is so," one of them says; I wonder if he is a
[A voice " He is a Douglas man."] Well, then, I want to know what
you are going to do with your half of it? Are you going to split the
Ohio down through, and push your half off a piece? Or are you going to
keep it right alongside of us outrageous fellows? Or are you going to
build up a wall some way between your country and ours, by which that
movable property of yours can't come over here any more, to the
danger of your losing it? Do you think you can better yourselves on
that subject, by leaving us here under no obligation whatever to
return those specimens of your movable property that come hither?
You have divided the Union because we would not do right with you,
as you think, upon that subject; when we cease to be under
obligations to do any thing for you, how much better off do you think you will be? Will you make war
upon us and kill us all? Why, gentlemen, I think you are as gallant and.
as brave men as live; that you can fight as bravely in a good cause,
tor man, as any other people living; that you have shown yourselves capable of this upon various occasions; but, man for man, you are not
better than we are, and there are not so many of you as there are of us.
You will never make much of a hand at whipping us. If we were fewer
in numbers than you, I think that you could whip us; if we were equal,
it would likely be a drawn battle; but, being inferior in numbers, you
make nothing by attempting to master us.
But perhaps I have addressed myself as long, or longer, to the Kentuckians than I ought to have done, inasmuch as I have said that whatever course you take, we intend in the end to beat you.
of this address was mainly occupied with a discussion of the policy
which the Republican party should pursue in the Presidential campaign
then about to open. The following passage from this part of the speech
is among the most notable of Mr. Lincoln' s many noble utterances:
In order to beat our opponents, I think we want and must have a
national policy in regard to the institution of slavery, that
and deals with that institution as being wrong. Whoever desires the prevention of the spread of slavery, and the nationalization of that
yields all when he yields to any policy that either recognizes slavery
being right, or as being an indifferent thing. Nothing will make you
successful but setting up a policy which shall treat the thing as being
When I say this, I do not mean to say that this General Government is
charged with the duty of redressing or preventing all the wrongs in the
world; but do think that it is charged with preventing and redressing
all wrongs which are wrongs to itself. This Government is expressly
charged with the duty of providing for the general welfare. We believe
that the spreading out and perpetuity of the institution of slavery
the general welfare. We believe nay, we know, that that is the only
thing that has ever threatened the perpetuity of the Union itself. The
only thing which has ever menaced the destruction of the government
under which we live, is this very thing.
To repress this thing, we think, is providing for the general welfare.
Our friends in Kentucky differ from us. We need not make our argument for them, but we who think it is wrong in all its relations, or in
some of them at least, must decide as to our own actions, and our own
course, upon our own judgment.
I say that we must not interfere with the institution of slavery in the
States where it exists, because the Constitution forbids it, and the
welfare does not require us to do so. We must not withhold an efficient
Fugitive Slave law, because the Constitution requires us, as I
it. not to withhold such a law. But we must prevent the outspreading
of the institution, because neither the Constitution nor the general
welfare requires us to extend it. "We must prevent the revival of the African
slave trade, and the enacting by Congress of a Territorial slave-code. We must
prevent each of these things being done by either Congresses or courts.
The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both Congresses and courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow
the men who pervert the Constitution.
To do these things we must employ instrumentalities. We must hold
conventions; we must adopt platforms, if we conform to ordinary custom;
we must nominate candidates, and we must carry elections. In all these
things, I think that we ought to keep in view our real purpose, and in
none do any thing that stands adverse to our purpose. If we shall adopt
a platform that fails to recognize or express our purpose, or elect a
that declares himself inimical to our purpose, we not only take nothing
by our success, but we tacitly admit that we act upon no other principle
than a desire to have " the loaves and fishes," by which, in the end,
apparent success is really an injury to us.
During the latter part of that year (1859) Mr. Lincoln also
visited Kansas, and was greeted with enthusiastic cordiality by the people, whose battles he had fought with such
masterly ability and skill. In February, 1860, in response
to an invitation from the Young Men's Republican Club,
he came to New York, to deliver an address upon some
topic appropriate to the crisis which it was evident was approaching. Tuesday evening, February 27th, was the hour,
and Cooper Institute was the place, selected for the first
appearance of the future President before the New York
public; and a curiosity to see the man who had so ably
combated the "Little Giant" of the West, as well as an
earnest desire to hear an expression of his views upon the
questions which were then so rapidly developing in importance, and beginning to agitate the public mind so
deeply, filled the large hall named to overflowing, with
an audience which comprised many ladies. William
Cullen Bryant presided, assisted by numerous prominent
politicians. He presented Mr. Lincoln to the audience
with a few appropriate remarks. Mr. Lincoln was quite
warmly received, and delivered an address which at times
excited uncontrollable enthusiasm. It was at once accepted
as one of the most important contributions to the current
political literature of the day, and now stands among the
enduring monuments to Mr. Lincoln's memory. We append it in full:
MR. PRESIDENT AND FELLOW-CITIZENS OF NEW YORK: The facts with
which I shall deal this evening are mainly old and familiar; nor is
any thing new in the general use I shall make of them. If there shall be
any novelty, it will be in the mode of presenting the facts, and the
inferences and observations following that presentation.
In his speech last autumn, at Columbus, Ohio, as reported in the "New
York Times," Senator Douglas said:
"Our fathers, when they framed the Government under which we live,
understood, this question just as well, and even better than we do
I fully indorse this, and I adopt it as a text for this discourse. I so
it because it furnishes a precise and an agreed starting-point for a
discussion between Republicans and that wing of the Democracy headed by
Senator Douglas. It simply leaves the inquiry: "What was the under
standing those fathers had of the question mentioned.?"
What is the frame of Government under which we live?
The answer must be: "The Constitution of the United States." That
Constitution consists of the original, framed in 1787 (and under which
present government first went into operation), and twelve subsequently
framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed in 1789.
Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution? I suppose the
"thirty-nine" who signed the original instrument may be fairly called
our fathers who framed that part of the present Government. It is almost
exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether true to say
they fairly represented the opinion and sentiment of the whole nation at that
Their names, being familiar to nearly all, and accessible to quite all,
need not now be repeated.
I take these "thirty-nine," for the present, as being our "fathers
framed the Government under which we live."
"What is the question which, according to the text, those fathers under
stood "just as well, and even better than we do now?"
It is this:
Does the proper division of local from federal authority, or any thing
in the Constitution, forbid our Federal Government to control as to
slavery in our Federal Territories?
Upon this Senator Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republicans the
negative. This affirmation and denial form an issue, and this issue this
question is precisely what the text declares our fathers understood "
better than we."
Let us now inquire whether the "thirty-nine," or any of them.
acted upon this question; and if they did, how they acted upon it how
they expressed that better understanding?
In 1784, three years before the Constitution the United States then
owning the Northwestern Territory, and no other the Congress of the Confederation had before them the question of prohibiting shivery in that
Territory; and four of the "thirty-nine," who afterward framed the Constitution, were in that Congress and voted on that question. Of these,
Roger Sherman, Thomas Mifflin, and Hugh Williamson voted for the prohibition, thus showing that, in their understanding, no line dividing
from Federal authority, nor any thing else, properly forbade the Federal
Government to control as to slavery in Federal territory. The other of
the four James M'Henry voted against the prohibition, showing that,
for some cause, he thought it improper to vote for it.
In 1787, still before the Constitution, but while the Convention was in
session framing it, and while the Northwestern Territory still was the
territory owned by the United States, the same question of prohibiting
slavery in the territory again came before the Congress of the
Confederation; and two more of the " thirty-nine " who afterward signed the Constitution were in that Congress, and voted on the question. They were
William Blount and William Few; and they both voted for the prohibition thus showing that, in their understanding, no line dividing local
from Federal authority, nor any thing else, properly forbade the Federal
Government to control as to slavery in Federal territory. This time the
prohibition became a law, being part of what is now well known as the
Ordinance of '87.
The question of Federal control of slavery in the territories, seems not
to have been directly before the Convention which framed the original
Constitution; and hence it is not recorded that the "thirty-nine," or
of them, while engaged on that instrument, expressed any opinion on that
In 1789, by the first Congress which sat under the Constitution, an act
was passed to enforce the Ordinance of '87, including the prohibition of
slavery in the Northwestern Territory. The bill for this act was
by one of the " thirty -nine." Thomas Fitzsimmons, then a member of the
House of Representatives from Pennsylvania. It went through all its
stages without a word of opposition, and finally passed both branches
without yeas and nays, which is equivalent to a unanimous passage. In. this
Congress there were sixteen of the thirty-nine fathers who framed the
original Constitution. They were John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman, Win.
S. Johnson, Roger Sherman, Robert Morris, Thos. Fitzsimmons, William
Few, Abraham Baldwin, Rufus King, William Paterson, George Clymer,
Richard Bassett, George Read, Pierce Butler, Daniel Carroll, James Madison.
This shows that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from
Federal authority, nor any thing in the Constitution, properly forbade Congress to prohibit slavery in the Federal territory; else both their
to correct principles, and their oath to support the Constitution, would
have constrained them to oppose the prohibition.
Again: George Washington, another of the "thirty-nine," was then President of the United States, and, as such, approved and signed the
thus completing its validity as a law, and thus showing that, in his
understanding, no line dividing local from Federal authority, nor any thing
the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to
in Federal territory.
No great while after the adoption of the original Constitution, North
Carolina ceded to the Federal Government the country now constituting
the State of Tennessee; and, a few years later, Georgia ceded that which
now constitutes the States of Mississippi and Alabama. In both deeds of
cession it was made a condition by the ceding States that the Federal
Government should not prohibit slavery in the ceded country. Besides
this, slavery was then actually in the ceded country. Under these circumstances, Congress, on taking charge of these countries, did not absolutely prohibit slavery within them. But they did interfere with it take
control of it even there, to a certain extent. In 1798, Congress organized the Territory of Mississippi. In the act of organization, they
prohibited the bringing of slaves into the Territory, from any place without
United States, by fine, and giving freedom to slaves so brought. This
passed both branches of Congress without yeas and nays. In that Congress were three of the "thirty-nine' who framed the original
Constitution. They were John Langdon, George Bead, and Abraham Baldwin.
They all, probably, voted for it. Certainly they would have placed their
opposition to it upon record, if, in their understanding, any line
local from Federal authority, or any thing in the Constitution, properly
forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal
In 1803, the Federal Government purchased the Louisiana country.
Our former territorial acquisitions came from certain of our own States;
but this Louisiana country was acquired from a foreign nation. In 1804,
Congress gave a territorial organization to that part of it which now
constitutes the State of Louisiana. New Orleans, lying within that part,
an old and comparatively large city. There were other considerable
towns and settlements, and slavery was extensively and thoroughly intermingled with the people. Congress did not, in the Territorial Act, prohibit slavery; but they did interfere with it take control of it in a
more marked and extensive way than they did in the case of Mississippi.
The substance of the provision therein made in relation to slaves was:
First. That no slave should be imported into the territory from foreign
Second. That no slave should be carried into it who had been imported
into the United States since the first day of May, 1798.
Third. That no slave should be carried into it except by the owner,
and for his own use as a settler; the penalty in all the cases being a
upon the violator of the law, and freedom to the slave.
This act also was passed without yeas and nays. In the Congress
which passed it, there were two of the ''thirty-nine." They were Abraham Baldwin and Jonathan Dayton. As stated in the case of Mississippi,
it is probable they both voted for it. They would not have allowed it to
pass without recording their opposition to it, if, in their
it violated either the line properly dividing local from Federal
or any provision of the Constitution.
In 1819-20, carne and passed the Missouri question. Many votes were
taken, by yeas and nays, in both branches of Congress, upon the various
phases of the general question. Two of the " thirty-nine" Rufus King
and Charles Pinckney were members of that Congress. Mr. King
steadily voted for slavery prohibition and against all compromises,
Mr. Pinckney as steadily voted against slavery prohibition, and against
all compromises. By this, Mr. King showed that, in his understanding,
no line dividing local from Federal authority, nor any thing in the
Constitution, was violated by Congress prohibiting slavery in Federal
while Mr. Pinckney, by his vote, showed that, in his understanding,
was some sufficient reason for opposing such prohibition in that case.
The cases I have mentioned are the only acts of the "thirty-nine," or
of any of them, upon the direct issue, which I have been able to
To enumerate the persons who thus acted, as being four in 1784, two
in 1787, seventeen in 1789, three in 1798, two in 1804, and two in 1819-20 there would be thirty of them. But this would be counting John
Langdon, Roger Sherman, William Few, Rufus King, and George Read,
each twice, and Abraham Baldwin, three times. The true number of
those of the " thirty-nine " whom I have shown to have acted upon the
question which, by the text, they understood better than we, is twenty-three, leaving sixteen not shown to have acted upon it in any way.
Here, then, we have twenty -three out of our thirty-nine fathers " who
framed the Government under which we live," who have, upon their
official responsibility and their corporal oath?, acted upon the very
question which the text affirms they " understood just as well, and even
better than we do now;" and twenty -one of them a clear majority of the
whole "thirty-nine" so acting upon it as to make them guilty of gross
political impropriety and wilful perjury, if, in their understanding,
proper division between local and Federal authority, or any thing in the
Constitution they had made themselves, and sworn to support, forbade
the Federal Government to control as to" slavery in the Federal
Thus the twenty-one acted; and, as actions speak louder than words, so
actions, under such responsibility, speak still louder.
Two of the twenty-three voted against Congressional prohibition of
slavery in the Federal territories, in the instances in which they acted
upon the question. But for what reasons they so voted is not known.
They may have done so because they thought a proper division of local
from Federal authority, or some provision or principle of the
stood in the way; or they may, without any such question, have voted
against the prohibition on what appeared to them to be sufficient
grounds of expediency. No one who has sworn to support the Constitution, can
conscientiously vote for what he understands to he an unconstitutional
measure, however expedient he may think it; but one may and ought to
vote against a measure which he deems constitutional, if, at the same
he deems it inexpedient. It therefore would be unsafe to set down even
the two who voted against the prohibition, as having done so because, in
their understanding, any proper division of local from Federal
or any thing in the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal territory.
The remaining sixteen of the " thirty-nine," so far as I have
have left no record of their understanding upon the direct question of
Federal control on slavery in the Federal territories. But there is much
reason to believe that their understanding upon that question would not
have appeared different from that of their twenty-three compeers, had it
been manifested at all.
For the purpose of adhering rigidly to the text, I have purposely omitted whatever understanding may have been manifested by any person,
however distinguished, other than the thirty-nine fathers who framed the
original Constitution; and, for the same reason, I have also omitted
whatever understanding may have been manifested by any of the "thirty-nine" even, on any other phase of the general question of slavery. If
should look into their acts and declarations on those other phases, as
foreign slave-trade, and the morality and policy of slavery generally,
would appear to us that on the direct question of Federal control of
slavery in Federal territories, the sixteen, if they had acted at all,
probably have acted just as the twenty-three did. Among that sixteen
were several of the most noted anti-slavery men of those times as Dr.
Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Gouverneur Morris while there was
not one now known to have been otherwise, unless it may be John Rutledge, of South Carolina.
The sum of the whole is, that of our thirty-nine fathers who framed
the original Constitution, twenty-one a clear majority of the whole
certainly understood that no proper division of local from Federal authority, nor any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control slavery in the Federal territories; whilst all the rest
probably had the same understanding. Such, unquestionably, was the understanding of our fathers who framed the original Constitution; and the
text affirms that they understood the question "better than we."
But, so far, I have been considering the understanding of the question
manifested by the framers of the original Constitution. In and by the
original instrument, a mode was provided for amending it; and, as I
already stated, the present frame of " the Government under which we
live " consists of that original, and twelve amendatory articles framed
and adopted since. Those who now insist that Federal control of slavery
in Federal territories violates the Constitution, point us to the
provisions which they suppose it thus violates; and, as I understand, they all fix
upon provisions in these amendatory articles, and not in the original
instrument. The Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott case, plant themselves
upon the fifth amendment, which provides that no person shall he deprived of "life, liberty, or property without due process of law;" while
Senator Douglas and his peculiar adherents plant themselves upon the
tenth amendment, providing that " the powers not delegated to the
United States by the Constitution," " are reserved to the States
respectively, or to the people."
Now, it so happens that these amendments were framed by the first "
Congress which sat under the Constitution the identical Congress which
passed the act already mentioned, enforcing the prohibition of slavery
the Northwestern Territory. Not only was it the same Congress, but
they were the identical same individual men who, at the same session,
and at the same time within the session, had under consideration, and in
progress toward maturity, these Constitutional amendments, and this act
prohibiting slavery in all the territory the nation then owned. The Constitutional amendments were introduced before, and passed after the act
enforcing the Ordinance of '87; so that, during the whole pendency of
the act to enforce the Ordinance, the Constitutional amendments were
The seventy-six members of that Congress, including sixteen of the
framers of the original Constitution, as before stated, were
our fathers who framed that part of "the Government under which we
live," which is now claimed as forbidding the Federal Government to
control slavery in the Federal territories.
Is it not a little
presumptuous in any one at this day to affirm that the two things which
that Congress deliberately framed, and carried to maturity at the same
time, are absolutely inconsistent with each other? And does not such
affirmation become impudently absurd when coupled with the other
affirmation from the same mouth, that those who did the two things
alleged to be inconsistent, understood whether they really were
inconsistent better than we better than he who affirms that they are
It is surely safe to assume that the thirty-nine framers of the
Constitution, and the seventy-six members of the Congress which framed
the amendments thereto, taken together, do certainly include those who
may be fairly called " our fathers who framed the Government under
which we live." And, so assuming, I defy any man to show that any one
of them ever, in his whole life, declared that, in his understanding,
proper division of local from Federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in
Federal territories. I go a step further. I defy any one to show that
living man in the whole world ever did, prior to the beginning of the
present century (and I might almost say prior to the beginning of the last half of the present century), declare that, in his understanding,
proper division of local from Federal authority, or any part of the
Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to control as to slavery in the
Federal territories. To those who now so declare, I give not only " our
fathers who framed the Government under which we live," but with them
all other living men within the century in which it was framed, among
whom to search, and they shall not be able to find the evidence of a
man agreeing with them.
Now, and here, let me guard a little against being misunderstood. I
do not mean to say we are bound to follow implicitly in whatever our
fathers did. To do so, would be to discard all the lights of current experience to reject all progress all improvement. "What I do say is, that
if we would supplant the opinions and policy of our fathers in any case,
we should do so upon evidence so conclusive, and argument so clear, that
even their, great authority, fairly considered and weighed, cannot
and most surely not in a case whereof we ourselves declare they understood the question better than we.
If any man at this day sincerely believes that proper division of local
from Federal authority, or any part of the Constitution, forbids the
Government to control as to slavery in the Federal territories, he is
say so, and to enforce his position by all truthful evidence and fair
argument which he can. But he has no right to mislead others, who
have less access to history, and less leisure to study it, into the
that "our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live,"
were of the same opinion thus substituting falsehood and deception for
truthful evidence and fair argument. If any man at this day sincerely
believes "our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live,"
used and applied principles, in other cases, which ought to have led
to understand that a proper division of local from Federal authority, or
some part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Government to control
as to slavery in the Federal territories, he is right to say so. But he
should, at the same time, brave the responsibility of declaring that, in
opinion, he understands? their principles better than they did
and especially should he not shirk that responsibility by asserting that
" understood the question just as well, and even better than we do now."
But enough! Let all who believe that " our fathers, who framed the
Government under which we live, understood this question just as well,
even better than we do now," speak as they spoke, and act as they acted
upon it. This is all Republicans ask all Republicans desire in relation
to slavery. As those fathers marked it, so let it be again marked, as an
evil not to be extended, but to be tolerated and protected only because
so far as, its actual presence among us makes that toleration and
a necessity. Let all the guaranties those fathers gave it be not
but fully and fairly maintained. For this Republicans contend, and with
this, so far as I know or believe, they will be content.
And now, if they would listen as I suppose they will not I would
address a few words to the Southern people.
I would say to them: You consider yourselves a reasonable and a just
people; and I consider that in the general qualities of reason and
you are not inferior to any other people. Still, when you speak of us
Republicans, you do so only to denounce us as reptiles, or, at the best,
no better than outlaws. You will grant a hearing to pirates or
but nothing like it to "Black Republicans." In all your contentions
one another, each of you deems an unconditional condemnation of "Black
Republicanism " as the first thing to be attended to. Indeed, such condemnation of us seems to be an indispensable prerequisite license, so to
speak among you, to be admitted or permitted to speak at all. Now,
can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause, and to consider whether
is quite just to us, or even to yourselves? Bring forward your charges
specifications, and then be patient long enough to hear us deny or
You say we are sectional. "We deny it. That makes an issue; and the
burden of proof is upon you. You produce your proof; and what is it?
"Why, that our party has no existence in your section gets no votes in
your section. The fact is substantially true; but does it prove the
If it does, then in case we should, without change of principle, begin
get votes in your section, we should thereby cease to be sectional. You
cannot escape this conclusion; and yet, are you willing to abide by it?
If you are, you will probably soon find that we have ceased to be
for we shall get votes in your section this very year. You will then
to discover, as the truth plainly is, that your proof does not touch the
issue. The fact that we get no votes in your section, is a fact of your
making, and not of ours. And if there be fault in that fact, that fault
primarily yours, and remains so until you show that we repel you by some
wrong principle or practice. If we do repel you by. any wrong principle
or practice, the fault is ours; but this brings you to where you ought
have started to a discussion of the right or wrong of our principle. If
our principle, put in practice, would wrong your section for the benefit of ours, or for any other object, then our principle, and we with
are sectional, and are justly opposed and denounced as such. Meet us,
then, on the question of whether our principle, put in practice, would
wrong your section; and so meet us as if it were possible that something
may be said on our side. Do you accept the challenge? No! Then you
really believe that the principle which "our fathers who framed the
Government under which we live" thought so clearly right as to adopt it,
and indorse it again and again, upon their official oaths, is in fact so
clearly wrong as to demand your condemnation without a moment's consideration.
Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warning against sectional
parties given by "Washington in his Farewell Address. Less than eight years
before Washington gave that warning, lie had, as President of the
United States, approved and' signed an act of Congress enforcing the
prohibition of slavery in the Northwestern Territory, which act embodied
the policy of the Government upon that subject up to, and at, the very
moment he penned that warning; and about one year after he penned it,
he wrote La Fayette that he considered that prohibition a wise measure,
expressing in the same connection his hope that we should at some time
have a confederacy of free States.
Bearing this in mind, and seeing that sectionalism has since arisen upon
this same subject, is that warning a weapon in your hands against us, or
in our hands against you? Could Washington himself speak, would ho
cast the blame of that sectionalism upon us, who sustain his policy, or
upon you, who repudiate it? "We respect that warning of Washington, and
we commend it to you, together with his example pointing to the right
application of it.
But you say you are conservative eminently conservative while we
are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against a new and
untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the point
in controversy which was adopted by " our fathers who framed the Government under which we live;" while you with one accord reject, and
scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting
new. True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute
shall be. You are divided on new propositions and plans, but you are
unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the fathers.
Some of you are for reviving the foreign slave-trade; some for a Congressional Slave-Code for the Territories; some for Congress forbidding
the Territories to prohibit Slavery within their limits; some for
maintaining Slavery in the Territories through the judiciary; some for the "gurreat pur-rinciple " that "if one man would enslave another, no third man
should object," fantastically called "Popular Sovereignty;" but never a
man among you in favor of Federal prohibition of slavery in Federal
territories, according to the practice of " our fathers who framed the
Government under which we live." Not one of all your various plans can show a
precedent or an advocate in the century within which our Government
originated. Consider, then, whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and your charge of destructiveness against us, are based on the
most clear and stable foundations.
Again: you say we have made the slavery question more prominent than
it formerly was. We deny it. We admit that it is more prominent, but
we deny that we made it so. It was not we, but you,' who discarded the
old policy of the fathers. We resisted, and still resist your innovation;
and thence comes the greater prominence of the question. Would you
have that question reduced to its former proportions? Go back to that
old policy. What has been will be again, under the same conditions. If
you would have the peace of the old times, readopt the precepts and
of the old times.
You charge that we stir up insurrections among your slaves. "We deny
it; and what is your proof? Harper's Ferry! John Brown!! John
Brown was no Republican; and you have failed to implicate a single Republican in his Harper's Ferry enterprise. If any member of our party is
guilty in that matter, you know it or you do not know it. If you do know
it, you are inexcusable for not designating the man^and proving the
If you do not know it, you are inexcusable for assorting ft, and
for persisting in the assertion after you have tried and failed to make
proof. You need not be told that persisting in a charge which one does
not know to be true is simply malicious slander.
Some of you admit that no Republican designedly aided or encouraged
the Harper's Ferry affair; but still insist that our doctrines and
declarations necessarily lead to such results. We do not believe it. "We know
we hold to no doctrine, and make no declaration, which were not held to
and made by " our fathers who framed the Government under which we
live." You never dealt fairly by us in relation to this affair. When it
occurred, some important State elections were near at hand, and you were
in evident glee with the belief that, by charging the blame upon us, you
could get an advantage of us in those elections. The elections came, and
your expectations were not quite fulfilled. Every Republican man knew
that, as to himself at least, your charge was a slander, and he was not
much inclined by it to cast his vote in your favor. Republican
and declarations are accompanied with a continued protest against any
interference whatever with your slaves, or with you about your slaves.
Surely, this does not encourage them to revolt. True, we do, in common
with " our fathers, who framed the Government under which we live,"
declare our belief that slavery is wrong; but the slaves do not hear us
declare even this. For any thing we say or do, the slaves would scarcely
know there is a Republican party. I believe they would not, in fact,
generally know it but for your misrepresentations of us in their
In your political contests among yourselves, each faction charges the
other with sympathy with Black Republicanism; and then, to give point
to the charge, defines Black Republicanism to simply be insurrection,
blood, and thunder among the slaves.
Slave insurrections are no more common now than they were be
fore the Republican party was organized. What induced the Southampton insurrection, twenty-eight years ago, in which, at least, three
many lives were lost as at Harper's Ferry? You can scarcely stretch
your very elastic fancy to the conclusion that Southampton was "got up
by Black Republicanism." In the present state of things in the United
States, I do not think a general or even a very extensive slave
insurrectior is possible. The indispensable concert of action cannot be
The Slaves have no means of rapid communication; nor can incendiary freemen, black or white, supply it. The explosive materials are everywhere in parcels; but there neither are, nor can be supplied, the
Much is said by Southern people about the affection of slaves for their
masters and mistresses; and a part of it, at least, is true. A plot for
uprising could scarcely be devised and communicated to twenty individuals before some one of them, to save the life of a favorite master or
mistress, would divulge it. This is the rule; and the slave revolution in
Hayti was not an exception to it, but a case occurring under peculiar
circumstances. The gunpowder plot of British history, though not connected with slaves, was more in point. In that case, only about twenty were
admitted to the secret; and yet one of them, in his anxiety to save a
friend, betrayed the plot to that friend, and, by consequence, averted
calamity. Occasional poisonings from the kitchen, and open or stealthy
assassinations in the field, and local revolts, extending to a score or
will continue to occur as the natural results of slavery; but no general
insurrection of slaves, as I think, can happen in this country for a
time. "Whoever much fears or much hopes for such an event will be alike
In the language of Mr. Jefferson, uttered many years ago, "It is still
our power to direct the process of emancipation and deportation peace
ably, and in such slow degrees, as that the evil will wear off
and their places be, pari passu, filled up by free white laborers. If,
the contrary, it is left to force itself on, human nature must shudder
the prospect held up."
Mr. Jefferson did not mean to-say, nor do I, that the power of emancipation is in the Federal Government. He spoke of Virginia; and, as to
the power of emancipation, I speak of the slaveholding States only. The
Federal Government, however, as we insist, has the power of restraining
the extension of the institution the power to insure that a slave insurrection shall never occur on any American soil which is now free from
John Brown's effort was peculiar. It was not a slave insurrection. It
was an attempt by white men to get up a revolt among slaves, in which
the slaves refused to participate. In fact, it was so absurd that the
with all their ignorance, saw plainly enough it could not succeed. That
affair, in its philosophy, corresponds with the many attempts related in
history at the assassination of kings and emperors. An enthusiast broods
over the oppression of a people till he fancies himself commissioned by
Heaven to liberate them. He ventures the attempt, which ends in little
else than his own execution. Orsini's attempt on Louis Napoleon and
John Brown's attempt at Harper's Ferry were, in their philosophy, precisely the same. The eagerness to cast blame on old England in the one
case, and on New England in the other, does not disprove the sameness
of the two things.
And how much would it avail you, if you could, by the use of John
Brown, Helper's Book, and the like, break up the Republican organization? Human action can be modified to some extent, but human nature
cannot be changed. There is a judgment and a feeling against slavery in
this nation, which cast at least a million and a half of votes. You
destroy that judgment and feeling that sentiment by breaking up the
political organization which rallies around it. You can scarcely scatter
and disperse an army which has been formed into order in the face of
your heaviest fire; but if you could, how much would you gain by forcing
the sentiment which created it out of the peaceful channel of the
ballot box, into some other channel? What would that other channel
probably be? Would the number of John Browns be lessened or enlarged by
But you will break up the Union rather than submit to a denial of your
That has a somewhat reckless sound; but it would be palliated, if not
fully justified, were we proposing, by the mere force of numbers, to deprive you of some right plainly
written down in the Constitution. But
we are proposing no such thing.
When you make these declarations, you have a specific and well-understood allusion to an assumed Constitutional right of yours to take
into the Federal Territories, and to hold them there as property. But no
such right is specifically written in the Constitution. That instrument
literally silent about any such right. We, on the contrary, deny that
such a right has any existence in the Constitution, even by implication.
Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is, that you will destroy the Government unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution
as you please on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule
or ruin, in all events.
This, plainly stated, is your language. Perhaps you will say the Supreme Court has decided the disputed Constitutional question in your
favor. Not quite so. But, waiving the lawyer's distinction between dictum and decision, the Court have decided the question for you in a sort
of way. The Court have substantially said, it is your Constitutional
to take slaves into the Federal Territories, and to hold them there as
property. When I say the decision was made in a sort of way, I mean it
was made in a divided Court, by a bare majority of the judges, and they
not quite agreeing with one another in the reasons for making it; that
is so made as that its avowed supporters disagree with one another about
its meaning, and that it was mainly based upon a mistaken statement of
fact the statement in the opinion that " the right of property in a
is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution."
An inspection of the Constitution will show that the right of property
in a slave is not "distinctly and expressly affirmed" in it. Bear in
the judges do not pledge their judicial opinion that such right is
impliedly affirmed in the Constitution; but they pledge their
veracity that it is "distinctly and expressly" affirmed there "distinctly," that is, not
mingled -with any thing else "expressly," that is, in words meaning just
that, without the aid of any inference, and susceptible of no other
If they had only pledged their judicial opinion that such right is
affirmed in the instrument by implication, it would be open to others to
show that neither the word "slave" nor "slavery" is to be found in the
Constitution, nor the word " property" even, in any connection with language alluding to the things slave or slavery, and that wherever in that
instrument the slave is alluded to, he is called a " person;" and wherever his master's legal right in relation to him is alluded to, it is
of as "service or labor which maybe due," as a debt payable in service
or labor. Also, it would be open to show, by contemporaneous history,
that this mode of alluding to slaves and slavery, instead of speaking of
them, was employed on purpose to exclude from the Constitution the
idea that there could be property in man.
To show all this, is easy and certain.
When this obvious mistake of the judges shall be brought to their notice, is it not reasonable to expect that they will withdraw the
mistaken statement, and reconsider the conclusion based upon it?
And then it is to be remembered that " our fathers, who framed the
Government under which we live" the men who made the Constitution
decided this same Constitutional question in our favor, long ago
decided it without division among themselves, when making the decision;
without division among themselves about the meaning of it after it was
made, and, so far as any evidence is left, without basing it upon any
mistaken statement of facts.
Under all these circumstances, do yon really feel yourselves justified
break up this Government, unless such a court decision as yours is shall
be at once submitted to as a conclusive and final rule of political
But you will not abide the election of a Republican president ! In that
supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say,
the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us ! That is cool. A
highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth,
" Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a
To be sure, what the robber demanded of me my money was my
own; and I had a clear right to keep it; but it was no more my own
than my vote is my own; and the threat of death to me, to extort my
money, and the threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote,
can scarcely be distinguished in principle.
A few words now to Republicans. It is exceedingly desirable that all
parts of the great Confederacy shall be at peace, and in harmony one
with another. Let us Republicans do our part to have it so. Even though
much provoked, let us do nothing through passion and ill temper. Even
though the southern people will not so much as listen to us, let us
consider their demands, and yield to them if, in our deliberate view of
duty, we possibly can. Judging by all they say and do. and by the subject and nature of their controversy with us, let us determine, if we
what will satisfy them.
Will they be satisfied if the Territories be unconditionally surrendered
to them? "We know they will not. In all their present complaints
against us, the Territories are scarcely mentioned. Invasions and insurrections are the rage now. Will it satisfy them if, in the future, we
nothing to do with invasions and insurrections? We know it will not.
We so know, because we know we never had any thing to do with invasions and insurrections; and yet this total abstaining does not
us from the charge and the denunciation.
The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must
not only let them alone, but we must, somehow, convince them that we
do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We
Lave been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we
have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has
no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them is the
fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb
These natural and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery
wrong, and join
them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly done in
acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated we must place
ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas's new sedition law must
be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is
wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private.
We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure.
We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere
must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they
will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.
I am quite aware they do not state their case precisely in this way.
Most of them would probably say to us, " Let us alone, do nothing to us,
and say what you please about slavery." But we do let them alone
Lave never disturbed them so that, after all, it is what we say which
dissatisfies them. They will continue to accuse us of doing, until we
I am also aware they have not as yet, in terms, demanded the over
throw of our Free State Constitutions. Yet those Constitutions declare
the wrong of slavery, with more solemn emphasis than do all other
sayings against it; and when all these other sayings shall have been
silenced, the overthrow of these Constitutions will be demanded, and
nothing be left to resist the demand. It is nothing to the contrary,
they do not demand the whole of this just now. Demanding what they do, and for the reason they do, they can voluntarily stop nowhere short
of this consummation. Holding, as they do, that slavery is morally
right, and socially elevating, they cannot cease to demand a full
recognition of it, as a legal right and a social blessing.
Nor can we justifiably withhold this on any ground save our conviction
that slavery is wrong. If slavery is right, all words, acts, laws, and
constitutions against it are themselves wrong, and should be silenced and
swept away. If it is right, we cannot justly object to its nationality
universality; if it is wrong, they cannot justly insist upon its
its enlargement. All they ask we could readily grant, if we thought
slavery right; all we ask they could as readily grant, if they thought
wrong. Their thinking it right, and our thinking it wrong, is the
fact upon which depends the whole controversy. Thinking it right, as
they do, they are not to blame for desiring its full recognition, as
right; but, thinking it wrong, as we do, can we yield to them? Can we
cast our votes with their view, and against our own? In view of our
moral, social, and political responsibilities, can we do this?
Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let it alone where it
is, because that much is due to the necessity arising from its actual
presence in the nation; but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow
to spread into the National Territories, and to overrun us here in these
Free States? If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand by
duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be diverted by none of those
sophistical contrivances wherewith we are so industriously plied and belabored contrivances such as groping for some middle ground between the
right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man who should be neither
a living man nor a dead man such as a policy of " don't care" on a
question about which all true men do care such as Union appeals beseeching true Union men to yield to Disunionists, reversing the divine
rule, and calling, not the sinners, but the righteous to repentance such
as invocations to Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington
said, and undo what Washington did.
Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false accusations against
us, nor frightened from it by menaces of destruction to the Government
nor of dungeons to ourselves. LET US HAVE FAITH THAT EIGHT MAKES
MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY AS WE UNDERSTAND IT.
The pre-eminent ability displayed in this address, compelled the people of the Middle and Eastern States to
acknowledge that Mr. Lincoln was not only one of the
foremost men of the West, but of the whole country, and
this estimate was confirmed by the speeches which he
subsequently delivered in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to state
that the joint effect of these efforts more particularly his
speech at Cooper Institute and of his debates with Mr.
Douglas, was to make Mr. Lincoln decidedly the second
choice of the great body of the Republicans of New
York, as the candidate of the Republican party for the
campaign of 1860.
Some incidents of this visit to New York,
illustrate the simplicity and earnestness of the character of our late
President so forcibly, that they are well deserving being placed on
record. A prominent member of the Young Men's Republican Association,
who was thrown much in Mr. Lincoln' s company during his brief stay,
During the day, before the delivery of the address, a friend of Mr.
Lincoln called at the Astor House, where he was staying, and suggested
the orator should be taken up Broadway and shown the city, of which he
knew but little, staling, I think, that he had been here but once
accompanied him to several large establishments, with all of which he
seemed much amused.
At one place he met an Illinois acquaintance of former years, to whom
he said, in his dry, good-natured way: "Well, B., how have you fared
since you left Illinois?" To which B. replied, " I have made one hundred
thousand dollars and lost it all; how is it with you, Mr. Lincoln?" "
very well," said Mr. Lincoln; "I have the cottage at Springfield and
$3,000 in money. If they make me Vice-President with Reward, as some
say they will, I hope I shall be able to increase it to $20,000, and
as much as any man ought to want."
We visited a photographic establishment upon the corner of Broadway
and Bleecker street, where he sat for his picture, the first taken in
York. At the gallery he met and was introduced to George Bancroft,
and had a brief conversation with that gentleman, who welcomed him to
New York. The contrast in the appearance of the men was most striking
the one courtly and precise in his every word and gesture, with the air
of a trans-Atlantic statesman; the other bluff and awkward, his every
utterance an apology for his ignorance of metropolitan manners and customs. " I am on my way to Massachusetts," said he to Mr. Bancroft,
"There I have a son at school, who, if report be true., already knows
much more than his father."
A teacher at the Five Points
House of Industry tells this touching incident, which doubtless
transpired during the same visit:
Our Sunday School in the Five Points was assembled, one Sabbath
morning, when I noticed a tall, remarkable looking man enter the room
and take a seat among us. He listened with fixed attention to our exercises, and his countenance expressed such genuine interest that I approached, him and suggested that he might be willing to say something to
the children. He accepted the invitation with evident pleasure; and,
coming forward, began a simple address, which at once fascinated every
little hearer and hushed the room into silence. His language was strikingly beautiful, and his tones musical with intensest feeling. The
faces around him would droop into sad conviction as he uttered sentences
of warning, and would brighten into sunshine as he spoke cheerful words
of promise. Once or twice he attempted to close his remarks, but the
imperative shout of "Go on!" "Oh, do go on!" would compel him to
resume. As I looked upon the gaunt and sinewy frame of the stranger,
and marked his powerful head and determined features, now touched into
softness by the impressions of the moment, I felt an irrepressible
to learn something more about him, and when he was quietly leaving the
room I begged to know his name. He courteously replied, 4i It is Abraham
Lincoln, from Illinois."
The following letter, written
during this same period, in reply to an invitation to attend a festival
in honor of the anniversary of Jefferson's birthday, given by the
Republicans of Boston, is thoroughly characteristic of Mr. Lincoln in
the quaint humor of its illustration:
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, April 6, 1859.
GENTLEMEN: Your kind note inviting me to attend a festival in Boston
on the 13th instant, in honor of the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, was
duly received. My engagements are such that I cannot attend
The Democracy of to-day hold the liberty of one man to be absolutely
nothing, when in conflict with another man's right of property.
Republicans, on the contrary, are both for the man and the dollar, but, in
of conflict, the man before the dollar.
I remember being once much amused at seeing two partially intoxicated men engaged in a fight with their great-coats on, which fight,
a long and rather harmless contest, ended in each having fought himself
out of his own coat, and into that of the other. If the two leading parties of this day are really identical with the two in the days of
and Adams, they have performed the same feat as the two drunken men.
But, soberly, it is now no child's play to save the principles of
Jefferson from total overthrow in this nation. . . .
.This is a world of compensations; and he who would le no slave, must consent to
slave. Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves;
and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.
All honor to Jefferson; to a man who, in the concrete pressure of a
struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness,
forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to
embalm it there, that to-day and in all coming days it shall be a rebuke
and a stumbling-block to the harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.
Your obedient servant,
Messrs. H. L. PIERCE, and others, etc.
But we turn from this episode to resume the formal
record of Mr. Lincoln' s political career.
The Republican National Convention of 1860 met on the
16th of May, at Chicago, in an immense building which
the people of that city had put up for the purpose, called
the Wigwam. There were four hundred and sixty-live
delegates. The city was filled with earnest men, who
had come there to press the claims of their favorite candidates, and the halls and corridors of all the hotels
swarmed and buzzed with an eager crowd, in and out of
which darted or pushed or wormed their way the various
leaders of party politics. Mr. Chase, Mr. Bates, and Mr.
Cameron were spoken of and pressed somewhat as candidates, but from the first it was evident that the contest
lay between Mr. Seward and Mr. Lincoln.
Judge Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, was chosen temporary
Chairman of the Convention, and in the afternoon of the
first day a permanent organization was effected, by the
choice of George Ashmun, of Massachusetts, as president, with twenty -seven vice-presidents and twenty-five
secretaries. On Thursday, the 17th, the Committee on
Resolutions reported the platform, which was enthusiastically adopted. A motion was made to proceed to the
nomination at once, and if that had been done the result
of the Convention might have proved very different, as
at that time it was thought that Mr. Seward' s chances
were the best. But an adjournment was taken till the
morning, and during the night the combinations were
made which resulted in the nomination of Mr. Lincoln.
The excitement of the Convention and of the audience on the morning of Friday was intense. The Illinoisans had
turned out in great numbers, zealous for Lincoln; and
though the other States, near and far, had sent many men
who were equally zealous for Mr. Seward, it was quite
clear that Mr. Lincoln's supporters were in the majority
in the audience. The first ballot gave Mr. Seward one
hundred and seventy-three and a half votes to one hundred and two for Mr. Lincoln, the rest being scattered.
On the second ballot the first indication of the result was
felt, when the chairman of the Vermont delegation, which
had been divided on the previous ballot, announced,
when the name of that State was called, that "Vermont
casts her ten votes for the young giant of the West,
Abraham Lincoln." On the second ballot, Mr. Seward
had one hundred and eighty-four and a half to one hundred and eighty-one for Mr. Lincoln, and on the third ballot Mr. Lincoln received two hundred and thirty votes, being within one and a half of a majority. The vote was not
announced, but so many everywhere had kept the count
that it was known throughout the Convention at once.
Mr. Carter, of Ohio, rose and announced a change in the
vote of the Ohio delegation of four votes in favor of Mr.
Lincoln, and the Convention at once burst into a state
of the wildest excitement. The cheers of the audience
within were answered by those of a yet larger crowd
without, to whom the result was announced. Cannon
roared, and bands played, and banners waved, and the
excited Republicans of Chicago cheered themselves
hoarse, while on the wings of electricity sped all over
the country the news of Mr. Lincoln' s nomination, to be
greeted everywhere with similar demonstrations. It was
long before the Convention could calm itself enough to
proceed to business. When it did, other States changed
their votes in favor of the successful nominee, until it
was announced, as the result of the third ballot, that
Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, had received three hundred and fifty-four votes, and was nominated by the Republican party for the office of President of the United
States. The nomination was then, on the motion of Mr. Evarts, of New York, made unanimous, and the Convention adjourned till the afternoon, when they completed
their work by nominating Hannibal Hamlin for Vice President.
Mr. Lincoln was at Springfield at the time. He had
been in the telegraph-office during the casting of the first
and second ballots, but then left, and went over to the
office of the State Journal, where he was sitting conversing with friends while the third ballot was being taken.
In a few moments came across the wires the announcement of the result. The Superintendent of the Telegraph
Company, who was present, wrote on a scrap of paper,
"Mr. Lincoln: You are nominated on the third ballot,"
and a boy ran with the message to Mr. Lincoln. He
looked at it in silence amid the shouts of those around
him; then rising and putting it in his pocket, he said
quietly, "There's a little woman down at our house
would like to hear this I'll go down and tell her."
day there arrived at Springfield the committee appointed by the
Convention to inform Mr. Lincoln officially of his nomination. They
waited upon him at his residence, and Mr. Ashmun, President of the
Convention, addressing Mr. Lincoln, said:
I have, sir, the honor, in behalf of the gentlemen who are present
a Committee appointed by the Republican Convention recently assembled
at Chicago to discharge a most pleasant duty. We have come, sir,
under a vote of instructions to that Committee, to notify you that you
have been selected by the Convention of the Republicans at Chicago for
President of the United States. They instruct us, sir, to notify you of
that selection, and that Committee deem it not only respectful to
but appropriate to the important matter which they have in hand, that
they should come in person, and present to you the authentic evidence of
the action of that Convention; and, sir, without any phrase which shall
either be considered personally planditory to yourself, or which shall
any reference to the principles involved in the questions which are connected with your nomination, I desire to present to yon the letter which
has been prepared, and which informs you of your nomination, and with
it the platform resolutions and sentiments which the Convention adopted,
Sir, at your convenience we shall be glad to receive from you such a response as it may be your pleasure to give us.
LINCOLN'S HOME IN SPRINGFIELD
Mr. Lincoln listened to this address with a degree of grave dignity that
almost wore the appearance of sadness, and after a brief pause, in which
he seemed to be pondering the momentous responsibilities of his
position, he replied:
MB. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN OF THE COMMITTEE: I tender to you,
and through you to the Republican National Convention, and all the
represented in it, my profoundest thanks for the high honor done me,
which you now formally announce. Deeply, and even painfully sensible
of the great responsibility which is inseparable from this high honor a
responsibility which I could almost wish had fallen upon some one of the
far more eminent men and experienced statesmen whose distinguished
names were before the Convention I shall, by your leave, consider more
fully the resolutions of the Convention, denominated the platform, and.
without any unnecessary or unreasonable delay, respond to you, Mr.
Chairman, in writing, not doubting that the platform will be found
satisfactory, and the nomination gratefully accepted.
And now I will not longer defer the pleasure of taking you, and each of
you, by the hand.
Tall Judge Kelly, of Pennsylvania, who was one of the
committee, and who is himself a great many feet high, had
meanwhile been eying Mr. Lincoln's lofty form with a
mixture of admiration, and possibly jealousy; this had
not escaped Mr. Lincoln, and as he shook hands with the
judge he inquired, " What is your height?"
" Six feet three. What is yours, Mr. Lincoln?"
" Six feet four."
" Then," said the judge, " Pennsylvania bows to Illinois. My dear man, for years my heart has been aching
for a President that I could look up to, and I've found him
at last in the land where we thought there were none but
Mr. Lincoln's formal reply to the
official announcement of his nomination was as follows:
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, May 23, 1860.
SIR: I accept the nomination tendered me by the Convention over
which you presided, of which I am formally apprised in a letter of yourself and others acting as a Committee of the Convention for that purpose. The declaration of principles and sentiments which accompanies
your letter meets my approval, and it shall be my care not to violate
it, or disregard it in any part. Imploring the assistance of Divine Providence, and with due regard to the views and feelings of all who were
represented in the Convention, to the rights of all the States and
and people of the nation, to the inviolability of the Constitution, and
perpetual union, harmony, and prosperity of all, I am most happy to cooperate for the practical success of the principles declared by the Convention. Your obliged friend and fellow-citizen,
HON. GEORGE ASHMUN,
President of the Republican Convention.
Mr. Lincoln' s nomination proved universally acceptable
to the Republican party. Its members recognized in him
a man of firm principles, of ardent love for freedom, of
strict integrity and truth, and they went into the political
contest with a zeal and enthusiasm which was the guarantee of victory; while the doubt and uncertainty, the
divided counsels and wavering purposes of their opponents were the sure precursors of defeat.
His nomination was the signal to the leaders of the
slaveholders' party for pressing upon the Democratic Convention their most ultra views, that by the division of the
Democratic forces the victory of Mr. Lincoln might be
assured, and the pretext afforded them for carrying into
execution the plot against the liberties of the country
which they had been for so many years maturing. That
they would dare to carry their threat of rebellion into execution, was not believed at the North. If it had been,
while it might have frightened away some votes from Mr.
Lincoln, it would have brought him substantial accessions from the ranks of those who, though following the
Democratic banner, had not learned to disregard the good
old doctrine that the majority must rule, and who would
have rushed to its rescue, if they had believed that it was
really threatened. The vote which he received on November 6, 1860, was that of a solid phalanx of earnest men,
who had resolved that freedom should henceforth be
national, and that slavery should remain as the framers of
the Constitution intended that it should remain.