By john g. Nioolay and john hay

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chap, vin. tion to a popular vote. They were not more mag­nanimous in their victory than scrupulous in the means by which they had gained it. The night after the vote was taken they formed in a wild and drunken procession, and visited the residences of the Governor and the other free-State leaders, with loud and indecent demonstrations of triumph.

They considered their success already assured; but they left out of view the value of the moral forces called into being by their insolent challenge. The better class of people in the State, those here­tofore unknown in politics, the schoolmasters, the ministers, immediately prepared for the contest, which became one of the severest the State has ever known. They established three newspapers, and sustained them with money and contributions. The G-overnor gave his entire salary for four years to the expenses of this contest, in which he had no personal interest whatever. The antislavery members of the Legislature made up a purse of a thousand dollars. They spent their money mostly in printer's ink and in the payment of active and zealous colporteurs. The result was a decisive defeat for the slave party. The convention was beaten by 1800 majority, in a total vote of 11,612, and the State saved forever from slavery.

But these supreme efforts of the advocates of public morals, uninfluenced by considerations of personal advantage, are of rare occurrence, and necessarily do not survive the exigencies that call them forth. The apologists of slavery, beaten in the canvass, were more successful in the field of social opinion. In the reaction which succeeded the triumph of the antislavery party, it seemed as



if there had never been any antislavery sentiment chap.viii. in the State. They had voted, it is true, against the importation of slaves from the South, but they were content to live under a code of Draconian ferocity, inspired by the very spirit of slavery, visiting the immigration of free negroes with penalties of the most savage description. Even G-overnor Coles, the public-spirited and popular politician, was indicted and severely fined for having brought his own freedmen into the State and having assisted them in establishing themselves around him upon farms of their own. The Leg­islature remitted the fine, but the Circuit Court declared it had no constitutional power to do so, though the Supreme Court afterwards overruled this decision. Any mention of the subject of slavery was thought in the worst possible taste, and no one could avow himself opposed to it with­out the risk of social ostracism. Every town had its one or two abolitionists, who were regarded as harmless or dangerous lunatics, according to the energy with which they made their views known. From this arose a singular prejudice against New England people. It was attributable partly to the natural feeling of distrust of strangers which is common to ignorance and provincialism, but still more to a general suspicion that all Eastern men were abolitionists. Mr. Cook, who so long rep­resented the State in Congress, used to relate with much amusement how he once spent the night in a farmer's cabin, and listened to the honest man's

denunciations of " that Yankee Cook." Cook

was a Kentuckian, but his enemies could think of no more dreadful stigma to apply to him than that of vol. I—-10


chap. viii. calling him a Yankee. Senator James A. McDongall once told us that although he made no pretense of concealing his Eastern nativity, he never could keep his ardent friends in Pike County from denying the fact and fighting any one who asserted it. The great preacher, Peter Oartwright, used to denounce Eastern men roundly in his sermons, calling them "imps who lived on oysters" instead of honest corn-bread and bacon. The taint of slavery, the contagion of a plague they had not quite escaped, was on the people of Illinois. They were strong enough to rise once in their might and say they would not have slavery among them. But in the petty details of every day, in their ordinary talk, and in their routine legislation, their sympathies were still with the slave-holders. They would not enlist with them, but they would fight their battles in their own way.

Their readiness to do what came to be called later, in a famous speech, the " dirty work" of the South was seen in the tragic death of Eev. Elijah P. Love joy, in this very year of 1837. He had for some years been publishing a religious news­paper in St. Louis, but finding the atmosphere of that city becoming dangerous to him on account of the freedom of his comments upon Southern insti­tutions, he moved to Alton, in Illinois, twenty-five miles further up the river. His arrival excited an immediate tumult in that place; a mob gathered there on the day he came—it was Sunday, and the good people were at leisure — and threw his press into the Mississippi. Having thus expressed their determination to vindicate the law, they held a meeting, and cited him before it to declare his


intentions. He said they were altogether peaceful chap.vjii. and legal; that he intended to pubHsS ^.religious newspaper and not to meddle with politics. This seemed satisfactory to the people, and he was allowed to fish out his press, buy new types, and set up his paper. But Mr. Lovejoy was a predes­tined martyr. He felt there was a " woe " upon him if he held his peace against the wickedness across the river. He wrote and published what was in his heart tcrsay, and Alton was again vehemently moved. A committee appointed itself to wait upon him; for this sort of outrage is usually accom­plished with a curious formality which makes it seem to the participants legal and orderly. The preacher met them with an undaunted front and told them he must do his duty as it appeared to him; thaj; he was amenable to law, but nothing else; he even spoke in condemnation of mobs. Such language " from a minister of the gospel?? shocked, arid infuriated the committee and those whom they represented. " The people assembled," says Governor Ford, " and quietly took the press and types and threw them into the river." We venture to say that the word " quietly" never before fouzid itself in such company. It is not worth while to give the details of the bloody drama that now rapidly ran to its close. There was a fruitless effort at compromise, which to Lovejoy meant merely surrender, and which he firmly rejected, ^he threats of the mob were answered by defiance from the little band that surrounded the abolitionist. A new press was ordered, and arrived, and was stored in a warehouse, where Lovejoy a4d his friends shut themselves up, de-


chap. viii. termined to defend it with, their lives. They were there besieged by the infuriated crowd, and after a short interchange of shots Love joy was killed, his friends dispersed, and the press once more — and this time finally — thrown into the turbid flood.

These events took place in the autumn of 1837, but they indicate sufficiently the temper of the people of the State in the earlier part of the year.

The vehemence with which the early antislavery apostles were conducting their agitation in the East naturally roused a corresponding violence of expression in every other part of the country. "William Lloyd G-arrison, the boldest and most aggressive non-resistant that ever lived, had, since 1831, been pouring forth once a week in the "Liberator" his earnest and eloquent denuncia­tions of slavery, taking no account of the expedient or the possible, but demanding with all the fervor of an ancient prophet the immediate removal of the cause of offense. Oliver Johnson attacked the national sin and wrong, in the " Standard," with zeal and energy equally hot and untiring. Their words stung the slave-holding States to something like frenzy. The Georgia Legislature offered a

approved reward of five thousand dollars to any one who

i83i. ' should kidnap Garrison, or who should bring to

conviction any one circulating the " Liberator " in

, the State. Yet so little known in their own

neighborhoods were these early workers in this great

reform that when the Mayor of Boston received

remonstrances from certain Southern States a gainst

such an incendiary publication as the " Liberator,"

he was able to say that no member of the city

government and no person of his acquaintance had


ever heard of the paper or its editor; that on .chap.viii. search being made it was found that "his office was an obscure hole, his only visible auxiliary a negro boy, and his supporters a very few insignifi­cant persons of all colors." But the leaven worked continually, and by the time of which we are writ­ing the antislavery societies of the North-east had attained a considerable vitality, and the echoes of their work came back from the South in furious resolutions^ of legislatures and other bodies, which, in their exasperation, could not refrain from this injudicious advertising of their enemies. Petitions to Congress, which were met by gag-laws, constantly increasing in severity, brought the dreaded dis­cussion more and more before the public. But there was as yet little or no antislavery agitation in Illinois.

There was no sympathy with nor even toleration for any public expression of hostility to slavery. . The zeal of the followers of Jackson, although he had ceased to be President, had been whetted by his public denunciations of the antislavery propa­ganda ; little more than a year before he had called upon Congress to take measures to "prohibit under severe penalties " the further progress of such incendiary proceedings as were " calculated to stimulate the slaves to insurrection and to produce all the horrors of civil war." But in spite of all this, people with uneasy consciences continued to write and talk and petition Congress against slavery, and most of the State legislatures began to pass resolutions denouncing them. In the last days of 1836 Grovernor Duncan sent to the Illinois Legislature the reports and resolutions of several


chap.viii. States in relation to this subject. They were referred to a committee, who in due time reported a set of resolves " highly disapproving abolition societies"; holding that " the right of property in slaves is secured to the slave-holding States by the Federal Constitution"; that the general Grovern-ment cannot abolish slavery in the District of Columbia against the consent of the citizens of said District, without a manifest breach of good faith; and requesting the G-overnor to transmit to the States which had sent their resolutions to him a copy of those tranquilizing expressions. A long and dragging debate ensued of which no record has been preserved; the resolutions, after num­berless amendments had been voted upon, were ibs?. ' finally passed, in the Senate, unanimously, in the House with none but Lincoln and five others in the negative.1 No report remains of the many speeches which prolonged the debate; they have gone the t way of all buncombe; the sound and fury of them have passed away into silence; but they woke an echo in one sincere heart which history will be glad to perpetuate.

There was no reason that Abraham Lincoln should take especial notice of these resolutions, more than another. He had done his work at this session in effecting the removal of the capital. He had only to shrug his shoulders at the violence and untruthfulness of the majority, vote against them, and go back to his admiring constituents, to his dinners and his toasts. But his conscience and his reason forbade him to be silent; he felt a word

1 We are under obligations to the State records bearing on this-John M. Adair for transcripts of matter.


must be said on the other side to redress the dis- chap.yjii, torted balance. He wrote his protest, saying not one word he was not ready to stand by then and thereafter, wasting not a syllable in rhetoric or feeling, keeping close to law and truth and justice. "When he had finished it he showed it to some of his colleagues for their adhesion; but one and all refused, except Dan Stone, who was not a candi­date for reelection, having retired from politics to a seat on the bench. The risk was too great for the rest to run. Lincoln was twenty-eight years old; after a youth, of singular privations and struggles he had arrived at an enviable position in the politics and the society of the State. His inti­mate friends, those whom he loved and honored, were Browning, Butler, Logan, and Stuart—Ken-tuckians all, and strongly averse to any discussion ,of the question of slavery. The public opinion of his county, which was then little less than the breath of his life, was all the same way. But all these considerations could not withhold him from performing a simple duty — a duty which no one could have blamed him for leaving undone. The crowning grace of the whole act is in the closing sentence: "The difference between these opinions and those contained in the said resolutions is their reason for entering this protest." Reason enough for the Lincolns and Luthers.

He had many years of growth and development before him. There was a long distance to be trav­ersed between the guarded utterances of this pro­test and the heroic audacity which launched the proclamation of emancipation. But the young man who dared declare, in the prosperous begin-


chap. vin. ning of his political life, in the midst of a com­munity imbued with slave-State superstitions, that "he believed the institution of slavery was founded both on injustice and bad policy,"— attacking thus its moral and material supports, while at the same time recognizing all the constitutional guarantees which protected it,— had in him the making of a statesman and, if need be, a martyr. His whole career was to run in the lines marked out by these words, written in the hurry of a closing session, and he was to accomplish few acts, in that great history which Grod reserved for him, wiser and nobler than this.


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