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 radicalthe fugitive slave law; to restrict
for that day, but not so extreme slavery to those States in which
power to legislate for the ren-more territories unless slavery
dition of fugitives from labor,shall have been therein forever
to repeal and entirely abrogateprohibited.
LINCOLN AND TRUMBULL387
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
anti-Nebraska force, exceptingabove named ' could never vote
Judd, Cook, Palmer, Baker, andfor a Whig,' and this incensed
Allen, of Madison, and two orsome twenty Whigs to 'think'
three of the secret Matteson men,they would never vote for the man
would go into caucus, and I couldof the five."—Lincoln to the Hon.
get the nomination of that cau-E. B. Washburne, February 9,
ens. But the three Senators and1855. MS.
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 TETJMBULL389
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 ourfriends to go for him, which they
expected bolters, had been turn-did, and elected him on that, the
ing from me to Trumbull till hetenth ballot. Such is the way
had risen to 35 and I had beenthe thing was done. I think you
reduced to 15. These wouldwould have done the same under
never desert me except by mythe circumstances, though Judge
direction ; but I became satisfiedDavis, who came down this morn-
that if we could prevent Matte-ing, declares he never would
son's election one or two ballotshave consented to the 47 [oppo-
more, we could not possibly dosition] men being controlled by
so a single ballot after my friendsthe five. I regret my defeat
should begin to return to memoderately, but am not nervous
from Trumbull. So I determinedabout it." — Lincoln to Wash-
to strike at once; and accord-burne, February 9, 1855. MS.
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 TBUMBULL391
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
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,
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.
THE BOEDER RUFFIANS
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;