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386 ABRAHAM LINCOLN

chap. xxi. array of empty benches. Only some twenty-six delegates were there to represent the whole State of Illinois. Nothing daunted, they made their speeches and read their platform to each other.1 Particularly in their addresses they praised Lin­coln's great speech which they had just heard, not­withstanding his declarations differed so essentially from their new-made creed. " Ichabod raved/' said the Democratic organ in derision, "and Lovejoy swelled, and all indorsed the sentiments of that speech." Not content with this, without consent or consultation, they placed Lincoln's name in the list of their State Central Committee.

Matters remained in this attitude until their chairman called a meeting and notified Lincoln to attend. In reply he sent the following letter of inquiry: "While I have pen in hand allow me to say that I have been perplexed to understand why my name was placed on that committee. I was not consulted on the subject, nor was I apprised of the appointment until I discovered it by accident two or three weeks afterwards. I sup­pose my opposition to the principle of slavery is as strong as that of any member of the Eepublican party; but I had also supposed that the extent to

i Their resolutions were radical the fugitive slave law; to restrict

for that day, but not so extreme slavery to those States in which

as was generally feared. On the it exists j to prohibit the admis-

slavery question they declared sion of any more slave States;

their purpose: to abolish slavery in the District

To restore Kansas and Ne- of Columbia; to exclude slavery

braska to the position of free ter- from all territories over which

ritories; that as the Constitution the general Government has ex-

of the United States vests in the elusive jurisdiction, and finally

States and not in Congress the to resist the acquirement of any

power to legislate for the ren- more territories unless slavery

dition of fugitives from labor, shall have been therein forever

to repeal and entirely abrogate prohibited.

LINCOLN AND TRUMBULL 387

which I feel authorized to carry that opposition chap, xxi, practically was not at all satisfactory to that party. The leading men who organized, that party were present on the 4th of October at the discussion be­tween Douglas and myself at Springfield and had full opportunity to not misunderstand my position. Do I misunderstand them !"

Whether this letter was ever replied to is uncer­tain, though improbable. No doubt it led to con­ferences during the meeting of the Legislature, early in the year 1855, when the senatorial ques­tion came on for decision. It has been suggested that Lincoln made dishonorable concessions of principle to get the votes of Love joy and his friends. The statement is too absurd to merit serious contradiction. The real fact is that Mr. Giddings, then in Congress, wrote to Lovejoy and others to support Lincoln. Various causes delayed the event, but finally, on February 8, 1855, the Legislature went into joint ballot. A number of candidates were put in nomination, but the contest narrowed itself down to three. Abraham Lincoln was supported by the Whigs and Free-soilers; James Shields by the Douglas-Democrats. As be­tween these two, Lincoln would easily have suc­ceeded, had not five anti-Nebraska Democrats * refused under any circumstances to vote for him or any other Whig,1 and steadily voted during six

i "All that remained of the one of the two Representatives

anti-Nebraska force, excepting above named ' could never vote

Judd, Cook, Palmer, Baker, and for a Whig,' and this incensed

Allen, of Madison, and two or some twenty Whigs to 'think'

three of the secret Matteson men, they would never vote for the man

would go into caucus, and I could of the five."—Lincoln to the Hon.

get the nomination of that cau- E. B. Washburne, February 9,

ens. But the three Senators and 1855. MS.

388 ABRAHAM LINCOLN

chap, xxi. ballots for Lyman Trumbull. The first vote stood : Lincoln, 45; Shields, 41; Trumbull, 5 ; scattering, 8. Two or three Whigs had thrown away their votes on this first ballot, and though they now returned and adhered to him, the demoralizing example was imitated by various members of the coalition. On the sixth ballot the vote stood: Lin­coln, 36; Shields, 41; Trumbull, 8; scattering, 13. At this stage of the proceedings the Douglas-Democrats executed a change of front, and, drop­ping Shields, threw nearly their full strength, 44 votes, for Governor Joel A. Matteson. The maneuver was not unexpected, for though the Grovernor and the party newspapers had hitherto vehemently asserted he was not a candidate, the political signs plainly contradicted such statement. Matteson had assumed a quasi-independent posi­tion ; kept himself non-commital on Nebraska, and opposed Douglas's scheme of tonnage duties to impi'ove Western rivers and harbors. Like the majority of Western men he had risen from humble beginnings, and from being an emigrant, farmer, merchant, and manufacturer, had become Grovernor. In office he had devoted himself spe­cially to the economical and material questions affecting Illinois, and in this role had a wide pop­ularity with all classes and parties.

The substitution of his name was a promising device. The ninth ballot gave him 47 votes. The opposition under the excitement of non-partisan appeals began to break up. Of the remaining votes Lincoln received 15, Trumbull 35, scatter­ing, 1. In this critical moment Lincoln exhibited a generosity and a sagacity above the range of the

LINCOLN AND TETJMBULL 389

mere politician's vision. He urged upon his Whig chap.xxi. friends and supporters to drop his own name and join without hesitation or conditions in the elec­tion of Trumbull.1 This was putting their fidelity to a bitter trial. Upon every issue but the Nebraska bill Trumbull still avowed himself an uncompro­mising Democrat. The faction of five had been stubborn to defiance and disaster. They would compel the mountain to go to Mahomet. It seemed an unconditional surrender of the Whig party. But such was Lincoln's influence upon his adher­ents that at his request they made the sweeping sacrifice, though with lingering sorrow. The pro­ceedings had wasted away a long afternoon of most tedious suspense. Evening had come; the gas was lighted in the hall, the galleries were filled with eager women, the lobbies were packed with restless and anxious men. All had forgotten the lapse of hours, their fatigue and their hunger, in the absorption of the fluctuating contest. The roll-call of the tenth ballot still showed 15 votes for Lincoln, 36 for Trumbull, 47 for Matteson. Amid an excitement which was becoming painful, and

i" In the mean time our friends, ingly advised my remaining
with a view of detaining our friends to go for him, which they
expected bolters, had been turn- did, and elected him on that, the
ing from me to Trumbull till he tenth ballot. Such is the way
had risen to 35 and I had been the thing was done. I think you
reduced to 15. These would would have done the same under
never desert me except by my the circumstances, though Judge
direction ; but I became satisfied
Davis, who came down this morn-
that if we could prevent Matte- ing, declares he never would
son's election one or two ballots have consented to the 47 [oppo-
more, we could not possibly do sition] men being controlled by
so a single ballot after my friends the five. I regret my defeat
should begin to return to me moderately, but am not nervous
from Trumbull. So I determined
about it." — Lincoln to Wash-
to strike at once; and accord- burne, February 9, 1855. MS.

390 ABRAHAM LINCOLN

chap. xxi. in a silence where spectators scarcely breathed, Judge Stephen T. Logan, Lincoln's nearest and warmest friend, arose and announced the purpose of the remaining Whigs to decide the contest, where­upon the entire fifteen changed their votes to Trumbull. This gave him the necessary number of fifty-one, and elected him a Senator of the United States.

At that early day an election to the United States Senate must have seemed to Lincoln a most brilliant political prize, the highest, perhaps, to which he then had any hopes of ever attaining. To school himself to its loss with becoming resig­nation, to wait hopefully during four years for an­other opportunity, to engage in the dangerous and difficult task of persuading his friends to leave their old and join a new political party only yet dimly foreshadowed, to watch the chances of main­taining his party leadership, furnished sufficient occupation for the leisure afforded by the neces­sities of his law practice. It is interesting to know that he did more; that amid the consideration of mere personal interests he was vigilantly pursuing the study of the higher phases of the great moral and political struggle on which the nation was just' entering, little dreaming, however, of the part he was destined to act in it. A letter of his written to a friend in Kentucky in the following year shows us that he had nearly reached a maturity of conviction on the nature of the slavery conflict his belief that the nation could not permanently endure half slave and half free — which he did not publicly express until the beginning of his famous senatorial campaign of 1858:

LINCOLN AND TBUMBULL 391

springfield, ills., August 15,1855. chaf.xxi. Hon. GrEO. robertson, Lexington, Ky.

my dear sir : The volume you left for me has been received. I am really grateful for the honor of your kind remembrance, as well as for the book. The partial read­ing I have already given it has afforded me much of both pleasure and instruction. It was new to me that ms. the exact question which led to the Missouri Compromise had arisen before it arose in regard to Missouri, and that you had taken so prominent a part in it. Your short but able and patriotic speech on that occasion has not been improved upon since by those holding the same views; and, with all the lights you then had, the views you took appear to me as very reasonable.

You are not a friend of slavery in the abstract. In
that speech you spoke of " the peaceful extinction of
slavery" and used other expressions indicating your be­
lief that the thing was, at some time, to have an end.
Since then we have had thirty-six years of experience j
and this experience has demonstrated, I think, that there
is no peaceful extinction of slavery in prospect for us.
The signal failure of Henry Clay and other good and
great men, in 1849, to effect anything in favor of gradual
emancipation in Kentucky, together with a thousand
other signs, extinguishes that hope utterly. On the
question of liberty, as a principle, we are not what we
have been. When we were the political slaves of King
George, and wanted to be free, we called the maxim that
"all men are created equal'7 a self-evident truth; but
now when we have grown fat, and have lost all dread of
being slaves ourselves, we have become so greedy to be
masters that we call the same maxim " a self-evident lie."
The Fourth of July has not quite dwindled away j it is .
still a great day for burning fire-crackers! --^ ^t 16

That spirit which desired the peaceful extinction of slavery has itself become extinct with the occasion and the men of the Revolution. Under the impulse of that occasion, nearly half the States adopted systems of emancipation at once; and it is a significant fact that not a single State has done the like since. So far as peace­ful, voluntary emancipation is concerned, the condition

392 ABBAHAM LINCOLN

chap. xxi. of the negro slave in America, scarcely less terrible to the contemplation of a free mind, is now as fixed and hope­less of change for the better as that of the lost souls of the finally impenitent. The Autocrat of all the Russias will resign his crown and proclaim his subjects free republicans, sooner than will our American masters voluntarily give up their slaves.

Our political problem now is, " Can we as a nation con­tinue together permanently forever — half slave, and half free ?" The problem is too mighty for me. May God in his mercy superintend the solution. Your much obliged friend, and humble servant,

A. lincoln.

The reader has doubtless already noted in his mind the curious historical coincidence which so soon followed the foregoing speculative affirmation. On the day before Lincoln's first inauguration as President of the United States, the " Autocrat of all the Russias," Alexander II., by imperial decree emancipated his serfs; while six weeks after the inauguration, the " American masters," headed by Jefferson Davis, began the greatest war of modern times, to perpetuate and spread the insti­tution of slavery.

CHAPTER XXII

THE BOEDER RUFFIANS


T


HE passage of the Nebraska bill and the ch. xxn. hurried extinction of the Indian title, opened May so, nearly fifteen million acres of public lands to settlement and purchase. The whole of this vast area was yet practically tenantless. In all of Kansas there were only three military posts, eight or ten missions or schools attached to Indian res­ervations, and some scores of roving hunters and traders or squatters in the vicinity of a few well-known camping stations on the two principal emigrant and trading routes, one leading south­ward to New Mexico, the other northward towards Oregon. But such had been the interest created by the political excitement, and so favorable were the newspaper reports of the location, soil, and climate^of the new country, that a few months sufficed to change Kansas from a closed and prohibited Indian reserve to the emigrant's land of promise.

Douglas's oracular "stump speech" in the Ne­braska bill transferred the struggle for slavery extension from Congress to the newly organized territories. " Come on^ then, gentlemen of the slave States," said Seward in a Senate discussion;

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