I can only judge from what a single one of them told me. It was
this : ' We are not to do evil that good may come.' This gen-
eral proposition is doubtless correct; but did it apply? If by
your votes you could have prevented the extension, etc., of slav-
ery would it not have been good, and not evil, so to have used
your votes, even though it involved the casting of them for a
slave-holder. By the fruit the tree is to be known. An evil tree
cannot bring forth good fruit. If the fruit of electing Mr. Clay
would have been to prevent the extension of slavery, could the act
of electing have been evil ?
But I will not argue further. I perhaps ought to say that
individually I never was much interested in the Texas question.
I never could see much good to come of annexation, inasmuch as
they were already a free republican people on our own model. On
the other hand. I never could very clearly see how the annexa-
tion would augment the evil of slavery. It always seemed to me
that slaves would be taken there in about equal numbers, with or
without annexation. And if more were taken because of an-
nexation, still there would be just so many the fewer left where
they were taken from. It is possibly true, to some extent, that,
with annexation, some slaves may be sent to Texas and continued
in slavery that otherwise might have been liberated. To whatever
extent this may be true, I think annexation an evil. I hold it to
be a paramount duty of us in the free States, due to the Union of
the States, and perhaps to liberty itself (paradox though it may
seem), to let the slavery of the other States alone: while, on
the other hand, I hold it to be equally clear that we should never
knowingly lend ourselves, directly or indirectly, to prevent that
9° LIFE OF LINCOLN
slavery from dying a natural death — to find new places for it to
live in, when it can no longer exist in the old. Of course I am
not now considering what would be our duty in cases of insur-
rection among the slaves. To recur to the Texas question, I un-
derstand the Liberty men to have viewed annexation as a much
greater evil than ever I did; and I would like to convince you,
if I could, that they could have prevented it, if they had chosen.
I intend this letter for you and Madison together; and if you
and he or either shall think fit to drop me a line, I shall be pleased.
Yours with respect,
(Original owned by C. W. Durley, Princeton, Illinois.)
Springfield, Jany. 7, 1846.
Dr. Robert Boal, Lacon, HI.
Since I saw you last fall, I have often thought of writing you.
as it was then understood I would, but, on reflection, I have al-
ways found that I had nothing new to tell you. All has hap-
pened as I then told you I expected it would — Baker's declining,
Hardin's taking the track, and so on.
If Hardin and I stood precisely equal, if neither of us had been
to Congress, or. if we both had — it would not only accord with
what I have always done, for the sake of peace, to give way to
him ; and I expect I should do it. That I can voluntarily postpone
my pretentions, when they are no more than equal to those to
which they are postponed, you have yourself seen. But to yield
to Hardin under present circumstances, seems to me as nothing
else than yielding to one who would gladly sacrifice me altogether.
This, I would rather not submit to. That Hardin is talented,
energetic, usually generous and magnanimous, I have, before
this, affirmed to you, and do not now deny. You know that my
only argument is that " turn about is fair play." This he prac-
tically at least, denies.
If it would not be taxing you too much, I wish you would write
me, telling the aspect of things in your country, or rather your
district; and also, send the names of some of your Whig neigh-
bours, to whom I might, with propriety, write. Unless I can get
some one to do this, Hardin, with his old franking list, will have
the advantage of me. My reliance for a fair shake (and I want
nothing more) in your county is chiefly on you, because of your
position and standing, and because I am acquainted with so few
others. Let me hear from you soon.
(Original owned by Dr. Robert Boal, Lacon Illinois.)
Springfield, Jany 15, 1846.
Nathan Dresser is here, and speaks as though the contest be-
tween Hardin and me is to be doubtful in .Menard County — I
know he is candid and this alarms me some — I asked him to
tell me the names of the men that were going strong for Hardin;
he said Morris was about as strong as any — Now tell me, is Morris
going it openly? You remember you wrote me, that he would be
neutral. Nathan also said that some man who he could not re-
member had said lately that Menard County was going to de-
cide the contest and that that made the contest very doubtful.
Do you know who that was? Don't fail to write me instantly on
receiving telling me all — particularly the names of those who are
going strong against me. Yours as ever,
(Original owned by E. R. Oeltjen, Petersburg, 111.)
Springfield, January 21, 1846.
N. J. Rockwell:
Dear Sir: You perhaps know that General Hardin and I have
a contest for the Whig nomination for Congress for this district.
He has had a turn and my argument is " Turn about is fair play."
I shall be pleased if this strikes you as a sufficient argument.
Springfield, April 26, 1846.
Jas. Berdan, Esqr. :
Dear Sir: I thank you for the promptness with which you
answered my letter from Bloomington. I also thank you for the
frankness with which you comment upon a certain part of my
letter; because that comment affords me an opportunity of try-
ing to express myself better than I did before, seeing, as I do, that
in that part of my letter, you have not understood me as I intended
to be understood. In speaking of the " dissatisfaction " of men who
yet mean to do no wrong, &c, I meant no special application
of what I said to the Whigs of Morgan, or of Morgan & Scott.
I only had in my mind the fact, that previous to General Hardin's
withdrawal some of his friends and some of mine had become a
little warm; and I felt, and meant to say, that for them now to
meet face to face and converse together was the best way to
efface any remnant of unpleasant feeling, if any such existed.
I did not suppose that General Hardin's friends were in any
92 LIFE OF LINCOLN
greater need of having their feelings corrected than mine were.
Since I saw you at Jacksonville, 1 have had no more suspicion of
the Whigs of Morgan than of those of any other part of the Dis-
trict. I write this only to try to remove any impression that I
distrust you and the other Whigs of your country.
(Original owned by Mrs. Mary Berdan Tiffany, Springfield, 111.)
James Berdan, Jacksonville, 111.
Springfield, May 7th, 1846.
Jas. Berdan, Esqr.:
Dear Sir: It is a matter of high moral obligation, if not of
necessity, for me to attend the Coles and Edwards courts. I have
some cases in both of them, in which the parties have my promise,
and are depending upon me. The court commences in Coles on
the second Monday, and in Edgar on the third. Your court in
Morgan commences on the fourth Monday ; and it is my purpose to
be with you then, and make a speech. I mention the Coles and
Edgar courts in order that if I should not reach Jacksonville at
the time named you may understand the reason why. I do not,
however, think there is much danger of my being detained; as
I shall go with a purpose not to be, and consequently shall engage
in no new cases that might delay me. Yours truly,
(Original owned by Mrs. Mary Berdan Tiffany, Springfield, 111.)
REPORT OF SPEECH DELIVERED AT WORCESTER,
MASS., ON SEPT. 12, 1848.
(From the Boston " Advertiser.")
Mr. Kellogg then introduced to the meeting the Hon. Abram
Lincoln, whig member of Congress from Illinois, a representative
of free soil.
Mr. Lincoln has a very tall and thin figure, with an intellectual
face, showing a searching mind, and a cool judgment. He spoke
in a clear and cool, and very eloquent manner, for an hour and
a half, carrying the audience with him in his able arguments and
brilliant illustrations — only interrupted by warm and frequent
applause. He began by expressing a real feeling of modesty in
addressing an audience " this side of the mountains," a part of
the country where, in the opinion of the people of his section,
everybody was supposed to be instructed and wise. But he had
devoted his attention to the question of the coming presidential
election, and was not unwilling to exchange with all whom he
might the ideas to which he had arrived, lit.- then began to show
the fallacy of some of the arguments against (Jen. Taylor, mak-
ing his chief theme the fashionable statement of all those who
oppose him, ("the old Locofocos as well as the new") that he
has no principles, and that the Whig party have abandoned their
principles by adopting him as their candidate, lie maintained
that Gen. Taylor occupied a high and unexceptionable Whig
ground, and took for his first instance and proof of this state-
ment in the Allison letter — with regard to the Bank, Tariff, Rivers
and Harbors, etc. — that the will of the people should produce its
own results, without Executive influence. The principle that the
people should do what — under the constitution — they please, is a
Whig principle. All that Gen. Taylor is not only to consent, but
to appeal to the people to judge and act for themselves. And this
was no new doctrine for Whigs. It was the " platform " on
which they had fought all their battles, the resistance of Execu-
tive influence, and the principle of enabling the people to frame
the government according to their will. Gen. Taylor consents to
be the candidate, and to assist the people to do what they think
to be their duty, and think to be best in their natural affairs, but
because he don't want to tell what we ought to do, he is accused
of having no principles. The Whigs here maintained for years
that neither the influence, the duress, or the prohibition of the
Executive should control the legitimately expressed will of the
people; and now that on that very ground, Gen. Taylor says that
he should use the power given him by the people to do, to the
best of his judgment, the 'vill of the people, he is accused of want
of principle, and of inconsistency in position.
Mr. Lincoln proceeded to examine the absurdity of an attempt
to make a platform or creed for a national party, to all parts of
which all must consent and agree, when it was clearly the in-
tention and the true philosophy of our government, that in Con-
gress all opinions and principles should be represented, and that
when the wisdom of all had been compared and united, the will
of the majority should be carried out. On this ground he con-
ceived (and the audience seemed to go with him) that Gen.
Taylor held correct, sound republican principles.
Mr. Lincoln then passed to the subject of slavery in the states,
saying that the people of Illinois agreed entirely with the people
of Massachusetts on this subject, except perhaps that they did
not keep so constantly thinking about it. All agreed that slav-
ery was an evil, but that we were not responsible for it and can-
not affect it in states of this Union where we do not live. But,
the question of the extension of slavery to new territories of this
country, is a part of our responsibility and care, and is uniler
our control. In opposition to this Mr. L. believed that the self-
named " Free Soil " party, was far behind the WTiigs. Both
parties opposed the extension. As he understood it the new party
94 LIFE OF LINCOLN
had no principle except this opposition. If their platform held
any other, it was in such a general way that it was like the pair
of pantaloons the Yankee pedlar offered for sale " large enough
for any man, small enough for any boy." They therefore had
taken a position calculated to break down their single important
declared object. They were working for the election of either
Gen. Cass or Gen. Taylor. The speaker then went on to show,
clearly and eloquently, the danger of extension of slavery, likely
to result from the election of General Cass. To unite with those
who annexed the new territory to prevent the extension of slav-
ery in that territory seemed to him to be in the highest degree
absurd and ridiculous. Suppose these gentlemen succeed in
electing Mr. Van Buren, they had no specific means to prevent
the extension of slavery to New Mexico and California, and Gen.
Taylor, he confidently believed, would not encourage it, and would
not prohibit its restriction. But if Gen. Cass was elected, he
felt certain that the plans of farther extension of territory would
be encouraged, and those of the extension of slavery would meet
no check. The " Free Soil " men in claiming that name indi-
rectly attempts a deception, by implying that Whigs were not
Free Soil men. In declaring that they would " do their duty and
leave the consequences to God," merely gave an excuse for taking
a course they were not able to maintain by a fair and full argu-
ment. To make this declaration did not show what their duty
was. If it did we should have no use for judgment, we might as
well be made without intellect, and when divine or human law
does not clearly point out what is our duty, we have no means of
finding out what it is by using our most intelligent judgment of
the consequences. If there were divine law, or human law for
voting for Martin Van Buren, or if a fair examination of the
consequences and first reasoning would show that voting for him
would bring about the ends they pretended to wish — then he
would give up the argument. But since there was no fixed law on
the subject, and since the whole probable result of their action
would be an assistance in electing Gen. Cass, he must say that
they were behind the Whigs in their advocacy of the freedom
of the soil.
Mr. Lincoln proceeded to rally the Buffalo Convention for for-
bearing to say anything — after all the previous declarations of
those members who were formerly Whigs — on the subject of the
Mexican war, because the Van Burens had been known to have
supported it. He declared that of all the parties asking the confi-
dence of the country, this new one had less of principle than any
He wondered whether it was still the opinion of these Free Soil
gentlemen as declared in the " whereas " at Buffalo, that the Whig
and Democratic parties were both entirely dissolved and absorbed
into their own body. Had the Vermont election given them any
light ? They had calculated on making as great an impression
in that State as in any part of the Union, and there their attempts
had been wholly ineffectual. Their failure there was a greater suc-
cess than they would lind in any other part of the Union.
Mr. Lincoln wont on to Bay thai he honestly believed that all
those who wished to Loop up the character of the Union; who did
not believe in enlarging our hold, but in keeping our fences where
they are and cultivating our present p ons, making it a
garden, improving the morals and education of the people; de-
voting the administrations to this purpose; all real Whigs, friends
of good honest government; — the race ours. He had oppor-
tunities of hearing from almost every part of the Union from
reliable sources and had not heard of a country in which we had
not received accessions from other parties. If the true Whigs
come forward and join these new friends, they need not have a
doubt. We had a candidate whose personal character and prin-
ciples he had already described, whom he could not eulogize if he
would. Gen. Taylor had been constantly, perseveringly, quietly
standing up, doing his duty, and asking no praise or reward for it.
lie was and must be just the m°.n to whom the interests, princi-
ples and prosperity of the country might be safely intrusted. lie
had never failed in anything he had undertaken, although many
of his duties had been considered almost impossible.
Mr. Lincoln then went into a terse though rapid review of the
origin of the Mexican war and the connection of the administra-
tion and General Taylor with it, from which he deduced a strong
appeal to the Whigs present to do their duty in the support of
General Taylor, and closed with the warmest aspirations for and
confidence in a deserved success.
At the close of this truly masterly and convincing speech, the
audience gave three enthusiastic cheers for Illinois, and three
more for the eloquent Whig member from that State,
Springfield, III., May 19, 1849.
Butterfield will be Commissioner of the Gen'l Land Office, un-
less prevented by strong and speedy efforts. Ewing is for him,
and he is only not appointed yet because Old Zach. hangs fire.
I have reliable information of this. Now, if you agree with me
that his appointment would dissatisfy rather than gratify the
Whigs of this State, that it would slacken their energies in future
contests, that his appointment in '41 is an old sore with them
which they will not patiently have reopened, — in a word that
his appointment now would be a fatal blunder to the administra-
tion and our political men, here in Illinois, write Mr. Crittenden to
that effect. He can control the matter. Wore you to write Ewing
I fear the President would never hear of your letter. This may
be mere suspicion. You might directly to Old Zach. You will
be the best judge of the propriety of that. Not a moment's time
is to be lost.
9 6 LIFE OF LINCOLN
Let this confidential except with Mr. Edwards and a few others
whom you know I would trust just as I do you.
Yours as ever,
(Original owned by Mrs. Josephine G. Prickett, Edwardsville,
Secretary of Interior, Washington, D. C.
Springfield, III., June 3, 1849.
Hon. Secretary of Interior,
Dear Sir: Vandalia, the Eeceiver's office at which place is the
subject of the within, is not in my district ; and I have been much
perplexed to express any preference between Dr. Stapp and Mr.
Eemann. If any one man is better qualified for such an office
than all others, Dr. Stapp is that man; still, I believe a large
majority of the Whigs of the District prefer Mr. Eemann, who
also is a good man. Perhaps the papers on file will enable you
to judge better than I can. The writers of the within are good
men, residing within the Land District.
Your obt. servant,
(Original owned by C. F. Gunther, Chicago, 111.)
Springfield, July 13, 1849.
Mr. Edwards is unquestionably offended with me in connec-
tion with the matter of the General Land Office. He wrote a
letter against me which was filed at the Department.
The better part of one's life consists of his friendships; and, of
them, mine with Mr. Edwards was one of the most cherished.
I have not been false to it. At a word I could have had the office
any time before the Department was committed to Mr. Butter-
field, — at least Mr. Ewing and the President say as much. That
word I forbore to speak, partly for other reasons, but chiefly for
Mr. Edwards' sake, — losing the office that he might gain it. I
was always for; but to lose his friendship, by the effort for him,
would oppress me very much, were I not sustained by the utmost
consciousness of rectitude. I first determined to be an applicant,
unconditionally, on the 2nd of June; and I did so then upon
being informed by a Telegraphic despatch that the question was
narrowed down to Mr. 13 — and myself, and that the Cabinet had
postponed the appointment, three weeks, for my benefit. Not
doubting that Mr. Edwards was wholly out of the question I,
nevertheless, would not then have become an applicant had I
supposed he would thereby be brought to suspect me of treachery
to him. Two or three days afterwards a conversation with Levi
Davis convinced me .Mr. Edwards was dissatisfied; but I was
then too far in to get out. His own letter, written on the 2 ."* t h
of April, after I had fully informed him of all that had passed,
up to within a few days of that time, gave assurance I had that
entire confidence from him, which 1 felt my uniform and strong
friendship for him entitled mo to. Among other things it -
" whatever course your judgment may dictate as proper to be
pursued, shall never be excepted to by me." I also had hail a
letter from Washington, saying Chambers, of the Republic, had
brought a rumor then, that Mr. E — had declined in my favor,
which rumor I judged came from Mr. E — himself, as I had not
then breathed of his letter to any living creature. In saying I
had never, before the 22nd of June, determined to be an appli-
cant, unconditionally, I mean to admit that, before then, I had
said substantially I would take the office rather than it should
be lost to the State, or given to one in the State whom the Whigs
did not. want; but I aver that in every instance in which I spoke of
myself, I intended to keep, and now believe I did keep, Mr. E —
above myself. Mr. Edwards' first suspicion was that I had allowed
Baker to overreach me, as his friend, in behalf of Don Morrison.
I knew this was a mistake; and the result has proved it. I un-
derstand his view now is, that, if I had gone to open war with
Baker I could have ridden him down, and had the thing all my
own way. I believe no such thing. With Baker and some strong
man from the Military tract, & elsewhere for Morrison; and we
and some strong man from the Wabash & elsewhere for Mr. E — ,
it was not possible for either to succeed. I believed this in March,
and I know it now. The only thing which gave either any chance
was the very thing Baker & I proposed, — an adjustment with them-
You may wish to know how Butterfield finally beat me. I can
not tell you particulars, now, but will, when I see you. In the
meantime let it be understood I am not greatly dissatisfied, — I
wish the offer had been so bestowed as to encourage our friends
in future contests, and I regret exceedingly Mr. Edwards' feel-
ings towards me. These two things away, I should have no re-
grets, — at least I think I would not.
Write me soon.
Your friend, as ever,
(Original owned by Mrs. Josephine G. Prickett, Edwardsville,
Springfield, Sept. 14, 1849.
Dr. William Eithian, Danville, Til.
Dear Doctor: Your letter of the 9th was received a day or
two ago. The notes and mortgages you enclosed me were duly
9 8 LIFE OF LINCOLN
received. I also got the original Blanchard mortgage from An-
trim Campbell, with whom Blanchard had left it for yon. I got
a decree of foreclosure on the whole; but owing to there being no
redemption on the sale to be under the Blanchard mortgage, the
court allowed Mobley till the first of March to pay the money,
before advertising for sale. Stuart was empowered by Mobley
to appear for him, and I had to take such decree as he would con-
sent to, or none at all. I cast the matter about in my mind and
concluded that as I could not get a decree now would put the
accrued interest at interest, and thereby more than match the
fact of throwing the Blanchard debt back from 12 to 6 per cent., it
was better to do it. This is the present state of the case.
I can well enough understand and appreciate your suggestions
about the Land Office at Danville; but in my present condition,
I can do nothing.
Yours, as ever,
(Original owned by Dr. P. H. Fithian, Springfield, 111.)
Springfield, Jan. 11, 1851.
C. Hoyt, Esq.
My Dear Sir : Our case is decided against us. The decision was
announced this morning. Very sorry, but there is no help. The
history of the case since it came here is this — On Friday morn-
ing last, Mr. Joy filed his papers, and entered his motion for a
mandamus, and urged me to take up the motion as soon as pos-
sible. I already had the points, and authorities sent me, by you
and by Mr. Goodrich but had not studied them— I began prepar-
ing as fast as possible.
The evening of the same day I was again urged to take up the
case. I refused on the ground that I was not ready, and on which
plea I also got off over Saturday. But on Monday (the 14th) I had
to go into it. We occupied the whole day, I using the large part. I
made every point and used every authority sent me by yourself