chap. xx. cratic strength was transferred to another, but with no better prospects. Finally, seeing no chance of otherwise terminating the contest, the House yielded to the inevitable domination of the slavery question, and resolved, on February 2, by a vote of 113 to 104, to elect under the plurality rule after the next three ballotings. Under this rule, notwithstanding the most strenuous efforts to rescind it, Nathaniel P. Banks, of Massachusetts, was chosen Speaker by 103 votes, against 100 votes for #. William Aiken, of South Carolina, with thirty scattering. The " ruthless " repeal of the Missouri Compromise had effectually broken the legislative power of the Democratic party.
LINCOLN AND TRXJMBULL
O follow closely the chain of events, growing chap.xxi. out of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise iSi. at Douglas's instigation, we must now examine its effect upon the political fortunes of that powerful leader in his own State.
The extreme length of Illinois from north to south is 385 miles; in geographical situation it extends from the latitude of Massachusetts and New York to that of Virginia and Kentucky. The great westward stream of emigration in the United States had generally followed the parallels of latitude. The pioneers planted their new homes as nearly as might be in a'climate like the one they had left. In process of time, therefore, northern Illinois became peopled with settlers from Northern or free States, bringing their antislavery traditions and feelings; southern Illinois, with those from Southern or slave States, who were as naturally pro-slavery. The Virginians and Kentuckians readily became converts to the thrift and order of free society; but as a class they never gave up or conquered their intense hatred of antislavery convictions based on merely moral grounds, which they indiscriminately stigmatized as " abolition-
chap. xxi. ism." Impelled by this hatred the lawless element of the community was often guilty of persecution and violence in minor forms, and in 1837, as already related, it prompted the murder of Lovejoy in the city of Alton by a mob, for persisting in his right to publish his antislavery opinions. This was its gravest crime. But a narrow spirit of intolerance extending even down to the rebellion kept on the statute books a series of acts prohibiting the settlement of free blacks in the State.
It was upon this field of radically diverse sentiment that in the year 1854 Douglas's sudden project of repeal fell like a thunderbolt out of a clear sky. A Democratic Governor had been chosen two years before; a Democratic Legislature, called together to consider merely local and economic questions, was sitting in extra session at Springfield. There was doubt and consternation over the new issue. The Governor and other prudent partisans avoided a public committal. But the silence could not be long maintained. Douglas was a despotic party leader, and President Pierce had made the Nebraska bill an Administration question. Above all, in Illinois, as elsewhere, the people at once took up the discussion, and reluctant politicians were compelled to avow themselves. The Nebraska bill with its repealing clause had been before the country some three weeks and was yet pending in Congress when a member of the Illinois Legislature introduced resolutions indorsing it. Three Democratic State Senators, two from northern and one from central Illinois, had the courage to rise and oppose the resolutions in vigorous and startling speeches. They were N. B. Judd,
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of Chicago, B. 0. Cook, of La Salle, and John M. chap'xxi. Palmer, of Macoupin. This was an unusual party phenomenon and had its share in hastening the general agitation throughout the State. Only two or three other members took part in the discussion; the Democrats avoided the issue; the Whigs hoped to profit by the dissension. There was the usual rush of amendments and of parliamentary strategy, and the indorsing resolutions, which finally passed in both Houses in ambiguous language and by a diminished vote were shorn of much of their political significance.
Party organization was strong in Illinois, and for the greater part, as the popular discussion proceeded, the Democrats sustained and the Whigs opposed the new measure. In the northern counties, where the aritislavery sentiment was general, there were a few successful efforts to disband the old parties and create a combined opposition under the new name of Republicans. This, it was soon apparent, would make serious inroads on the existing Democratic majority. But an alarming counter-movement in the central counties, which formed the Whig stronghold, soon began to show itself. Douglas's violent denunciation of '" abolitionists" and " abolitionismw appealed with singular power to Whigs from slave States. The party was without a national leader; Clay had died two years before, and Douglas made skillful quotations from the great statesman's speeches to bolster up his new propagandise!. In Congress only a little handful of Southern Whigs opposed the repeal, and even these did not dare place their opposition on antislavery grounds. And especially the
chap. xxi. familiar yoice and example of the neighboring Missouri Whigs were given unhesitatingly to the support of the Douglas scheme. Under these combined influences one or two erratic but rather prominent Whigs in central Illinois declared their adherence to Nebraskaism, and raised the hope that the Democrats would regain in the center and south all they might lose in the northern half of the State.
One additional circumstance had its effect on public opinion. As has been stated, in the opposition to Douglas's repeal the few avowed abolitionists and the many pronounced Free-soilers, displaying unwonted activity, came suddenly into the foreground to rouse and organize public opinion, making it seem for the moment that they had really assumed leadership and control in politics. This class of men had long been held up to public odium. Some of them had, indeed, on previous occasions used intemperate and offensive language; but more generally they were denounced upon a gross misrepresentation of their utterance and purpose. It so happened that they were mostly of Democratic antecedents, which gave them great influence among antislavery Democrats, but made their advice and arguments exceedingly distasteful in strong Whig counties and communities. The fact that they now became more prudent, conciliatory, and practical in their speeches and platforms did not immediately remove existing prejudices against them. A few of these appeared in Illinois. Cassius M. Clay published a letter in which he advocated the fusion of anti-Nebraska voters upon "Benton, Seward, Hale, or any other good citizen," and afterwards made a
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series of speeches in Illinois. When he came to Springfield, the Democratic officers in charge refused him the use of the rotunda of the State House, a circumstance, however, which only served to draw him a larger audience in a neighboring grove. Later in the summer Joshua E. Giddings and Salmon P. Chase, of Ohio, made a political tour through the State, and at Springfield the future Secretary and Chief-Justice addressed an unsympathetic audience of a few hundreds in the dingy little court-house, almost unheralded, save by the epithets of the Democratic newspapers. A few local speakers of this class, of superior address and force, now also began to signalize themselves by a new-born zeal and an attractive eloquence. Conspicuous among these was Owen Love joy, of northern Illinois, brother of the man who, for opinion's sake, had been murdered at Alton.
While thus in the northern half of Illinois the public condemnation of Douglas's repeal was immediate and sweeping, the formation of opposition to it was tentative and slow in the central and southern counties, where, among Whigs of Southern birth, it proceeded rather upon party feeling than upon moral conviction. The new question struck through party lines in such a manner as to confuse and perplex the masses. But the issue would not be postponed. The Congressional elections were to be held in the autumn, and the succession of events rather than the leadership of politicians gradually shaped the campaign.
After a most exciting parliamentary struggle the repeal was carried through Congress in May. Encouraged by this successful domination over vol. I.—24
chap. xxi. Representatives and Senators, Douglas prepared to force its acceptance by the people. "I hear men now say/7 said he, " that they are willing to acquiesce in it. . . It is not sufficient that they shall not seek to disturb Nebraska and Kansas, but they must acquiesce also in the principle."1 In the slave States this was an easy task. The most prominent Democrat who had voted against the Nebraska bill was Thomas H. Benton. The election in Missouri was held in August, and Ben-ton was easily beaten by a Whig who was as fierce for repeal as Douglas himself. In the free States the case was altogether different. In Illinois the Democrats gradually, but at last with a degree of boldness, shouldered the dangerous dogma. The main body of the party rallied under Douglas, excepting a serious defection in the north; on the other hand, the Whigs in a body declared against him, but were weakened by a scattering desertion in the center and south. Meanwhile both retained their distinctive party names and organizations.
Congress adjourned early in August, but Douglas delayed his return to Illinois. The 1st of September had come, when it was announced he would return to his home in Chicago. This was an anti-slavery city, and the current of popular condemnation and exasperation was running strongly against him. Public meetings of his own former party friends had denounced him. Street rowdies had burned him in effigy. The opposition papers charged him with skulking and being afraid to meet his constituents. On the afternoon of his
1 Douglas's speech before the Union Democratic Club of New York, June 3, 1854. New York "Herald," June 5, 1854.
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coming many flags in the city and on the shipping in the river and harbor were hung at half-mast. At sunset sundry city bells were tolled for an hour to signify the public mourning at his downfall. "When he mounted the platform at night to address a crowd of some five thousand listeners he was surrounded by a little knot of personal friends, but the audience before him was evidently cold if not actively hostile.
He began his speech, defending his course as well as he could. He claimed that the slavery question was forever settled by his great principle of " popular sovereignty," which took it out of Congress and gave it to the people of the territories to decide as they pleased. The crowd heard him in sullen silence for three-quarters of an hour, when their patience gave out, and they began to ply him with questions. He endured their fire of interrogatory for a little while till he lost his own temper. Excited outcry followed angry repartee. Thrust and rejoinder were mingled with cheers and hisses. The mayor, who presided, tried to calm the assemblage, but the passions of the crowd would brook no control. Douglas, of short, sturdy build and imperious and controversial nature, stood his ground courageously, with flushed and lowering countenance hurling defiance at his interrupters, calling them a mob, and shaking his fist in their faces; in reply the crowd groaned, hooted, yelled, and made the din of Pandemonium. The tumultuous proceeding continued until half-past ten o'clock at night, when the baffled orator was finally but very reluctantly persuaded by his friends to give up the cQntest and leave the stand. It was trum-
chap. xxi. peted abroad by the Democratic newspapers that "in the order-loving, law-abiding, abolition-ridden city of Chicago, Illinois's great statesman and representative in the United States Senate was cried down and refused the privilege of speaking "; and as usual the intolerance produced its natural reaction. Since Abraham Lincoln's return to Springfield from his single term of service in Congress, 1847 to 1849, though by no means entirely withdrawn from politics, his campaigning had been greatly diminished. The period following had for him been years of work, study, and reflection. His profession of law had become a deeper science and a higher responsibility. His practice, receiving his undivided attention, brought him more important and more remunerative cases. Losing nothing of his genial humor, his character took on the dignity of a graver manhood. He was still the center of interest of every social group he encountered, whether on the street or in the parlor. Serene and buoyant of temper, cordial and winning of language, charitable and tolerant of opinion, his very presence diffused a glow of confidence and kindness. Wherever he went he left an ever-widening ripple of smiles, jests, and laughter. His radiant good-fellowship was beloved and sought alike by political opponents and partisan friends. His sturdy and delicate integrity, recognized far and wide, had long since won him the blunt but hearty sobriquet of "Honest Old Abe." But it became noticeable that he was less among the crowd and more in the solitude of his office or his study, and that he seemed ever in haste to leave the eager circle he was entertaining.
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It is in the midsummer of 1854 that we find him chap.xxi, reappearing upon the stump in central Illinois. The rural population always welcomed his oratory, and he never lacked invitations to address the public. His first speeches on the new and all-absorbing topic were made in the neighboring towns, and in the counties adjoining his own. Towards the end of August the candidates for Congress in that district were, in Western phrase, "on the track." Richard Yates, afterwards one of the famous." war governors," sought a reelection as a Whig. Thomas L. Harris as a Douglas-Democrat strove to supplant him. Local politics became active, and Lincoln was sent for from all directions to address the people. When he went, however, he distinctly announced that he did not purpose to take up his time with this personal and congressional controversy. His intention was to discuss the principles of the Nebraska bill.
Once launched upon this theme, men were surprised to find him imbued with an unwonted seriousness. They heard from his lips fewer anecdotes and more history. Careless listeners who came to laugh at his jokes were held by the strong current of his reasoning and the flashes of his earnest eloquence, and were lifted up by the range and tenor of his argument into a fresher and purer political atmosphere. The new discussion was fraught with deeper questions than the improvement of the Sangamon, protective tariffs, or the origin of the Mexican war. Down through incidents of, legislation, through history of government, even underlying cardinal maxims of political philosophy, it touched the very bed-rock of primary human
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chap. xxi. rights. Such a subject furnished material for the inborn gifts of the speaker, his intuitive logic, his impulsive patriotism, his pure and poetical conception of legal and moral justice.
Douglas, since his public rebuff at Chicago on September 1, had begun, after a few days of delay and rest, a tour of speech-making south ward through the State. At these meetings he had at least a respectful hearing, and as he neared central Illinois the reception accorded him became more enthusiastic. The chief interest of the campaign finally centered in a sort of political tournament which took place at the capital, Springfield, during the first week of October; the State Agricultural Fair having called together great crowds, and among them the principal politicians of Illinois. This was Lincoln's home, in a strong Whig county, and in a section of the State where that party had hitherto found its most compact and trustworthy forces. As yet Lincoln had made but a single speech there on the Nebraska question. Of the Federal appointments under the Nebraska bill, Douglas secured two for Illinois, one of which, the office of surveyor-general of Kansas, was given to John Calhoun, the same man who, in the pioneer days twenty years before, was county surveyor in Sangamon and had employed Abraham Lincoln as his deputy. He was also the same who three years later received the sobriquet of "John Candlebox Calhoun," having acquired unenviable notoriety from his reputed connection with the "Cincinnati Directory "and "Candlebox" election frauds in Kansas, and with the famous Lecompton Constitution. Calhoun was still in Illinois doing campaign work
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in propagating the Nebraska faith. He was rec-ognized as a man of considerable professional and political talent, and had made a speech in Springfield to which Lincoln had replied. It was, however, merely a casual and local affair and was not described or reported by the newspapers.
The meetings at the State Fair were of a different character. The audiences were composed of leading men from nearly all the counties of the State. Though the discussion of party questions had been going on all summer with more or less briskness, yet such was the general confusion in politics that many honest and intelligent voters and even leaders were still undecided in their opinions. The fair continued nearly a week. Douglas made a speech on the first day, Tuesday, October 3. Lincoln replied to him on the following day, October 4. Douglas made a rejoinder, and on that night and the succeeding day and night a running fire of debate ensued, in which John Calhoun, Judge Trumbull, Judge Sidney Breese, Colonel E. D. Taylor, and perhaps others, took part.
Douglas's speech was doubtless intended by him and expected by his friends to be the principal and the conclusive argument of the occasion. But by this time the Whig party of the central counties, though shaken by the disturbing features of the Nebraska question, had nevertheless re-formed its lines, and assumed the offensive to which its preponderant numbers entitled it, and resolved not to surrender either its name or organization. In Sangamon County, its strongest men, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen T. Logan, were made candidates for the Legislature. The term of Douglas's