Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; online

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tion, and proved their adherence to it by the election of a Van
Buren speaker, and two Van Buren clerks. It is clear, then, that
both branches of the Congress that pafesed those appropriations were
in the hands of Mr. Van Buren's friends, so that the Whi^s had no
power to arrest them, as Mr. Douglas would insist. And is not the
charge of extravagant expenditures equally well sustained, if shown
to have been made by a Van Buren Congress, as if shown to have
been made in any other way? A Van Buren Congress passed the
bills, and Mr. Van Buren himself approved them, and consequently
the party are wholly responsible for them.

Mr. Douglas next says that a portion of the expenditures of that
year was made for the purchase of public lands from the Indians.
Now it happens that no such purchase was made during that year.
It is true that some money was paid that year in pursuance of In-
dian treaties ; but no more, or rather not as much as had been paid
on the same account in each of several preceding years.

Next he says that the Florida war created many millions of this
year's expenditure. This is true, and it is also true that during that
and every other year that that war has existed, it has cost three or
four times as much as it would have done under an honest and ju-
dicious administration of the government. The large sums foolishly,
not to say corruptly, thrown away in that war constitute one of the
just causes of complaint against the administration. Take a single
instance. The agents of the government in connection with that
war needed a certain steamboat ; the owner proposed to sell it for
ten thousand dollars ; the agents refused to give tnat sum, but hired
the boat at one hundred dollars per day, and kept it at that hire till
it amounted to ninety-two thousand dollars. This fact is not found
in the public reports, but depends with me, on the verbal statement
of an officer of the navy, who says he knows it to be true. That the
administration ought to be credited for the reasonable expenses of
the Florida war, we have never denied. Those reasonable charges,
we say, could not exceed one or two millions a year. Deduct such
a sum from the forty-million expenditure of 1838, and the remainder
wUl still be without a parallel as an annual expenditure.

Again, Mr. Douglas says that the removal of the Indians to the
country west of the Mississippi created much of the expenditure of
1838. I have examined the public documents in relation to this
matter, and find that less was paid for the removal of Indians in
that than in some former years. The whole sum expended on that ac-
count in that year did not much exceed one quarter of a million. For
this small sum, although we do not think the administration entitled
to credit, because large sums have been expended in the same way in
former years, we consent it may take one and make the most of it

Next, Mr. Douglas says that five millions of the expenditures of
1838 consisted of the payment of the French indemnity money to
its individual claimants. I have carefully examined the public doc-
uments, and thereby find this statement to be wholly untrue. Of
the forty millions o'f dollars expended in 1838, 1 am enabled to say
positively that not one dollar consisted of payments on the French
indemnities. So much for that excuse.
Vol. 1—3.


Next comes the Post-office. He says that five millions were ex-
pended during that year to sustain that department. By a like ex-
amination of public documents, I find this also wholly untrue. Of
the so often mentioned forty millions, not one dollar went to the
Post-office. I am glad, however, that the Post-office has been re-
ferred to, because it warrants me in digressing a little to inquire
how it is that that department of the government has become a
charge upon the treasury, whereas under Mr. Adams and the presi-
dents before him it not only, to use a homely phrase, cut its own
fodder, but actually threw a surplus into the treasury. Although
nothing of the forty millions was paid on that account in 1838, it is
true that five millions are appropriated to be so expended in 1839 ;
showing clearly that the department has become a charge upon the
treasury. How has this happened ? I account for it in this way.
The chief expense of the Post-office Department consists of the pay-
ments of contractors for carrying the mail. Contracts for carrying
the mails are by law let to the lowest bidders, after advertisement.
This plan introduces competition, and insures the transportation of
the mails at fair prices, so long as it is faithfully adhered to. It
has ever been adhered to until Mr. Barry was made postmaster-gen-
eral. When he came into office, he formed the purpose of throwing
the mail contracts into the hands of his friends, to the exclusion of
his opponents. To effect this, the plan of letting to the lowest bid-
der must be evaded, and it must be done in this way : the favorite
bid less by perhaps three or four hundred per cent, than the con-
tract could be performed for, and consequently shutting out all hon-
est competition, became the contractor. The Postmaster-General
would immediately add some slight additional duty to the contract,
and under the pretense of extra allowance for extra services run the
contract to double, triple, and often quadruple what honest and fair
bidders had proposed to take it at. In 1834 the finances of the de-
partment had become so deranged that total concealment was no
longer possible, and consequently a committee of the Senate were
directed to make a thorough investigation of its affairs. Their re-
port is found in the Senate Documents of 1833-4, Vol. V, Doc. 422 ;
which documents may be seen at the secretary's office, and I pre-
sume elsewhere in the State. The report shows numerous cases of
similar import, of one of which I give the substance. The contract
for carrying the mail upon a certain route had expired, and of
course was to be let again. The old contractor offered to take it for
$300 a year, the mail to be transported thereon three times a week,
or for $600 transported daily. One James Reeside bid $40 for three
times a week, or $99 daily, and of course received the contract. On
the examination of the committee, it was discovered that Reeside had
received for the service on this route, which he had contracted to ren-
der for less than $100, the enormous sum of $1999 ! This is but a sin-
gle case. Many similar ones, covering some ten or twenty pages of
a large volume, are given in that report. The department was
found to be insolvent to the amount of half a million, and to have
been so grossly mismanaged, or rather so corruptly managed, in al-
most every particular, that the best friends of the Postmaster-Gen-


eral made no defense of his administration of it. They admitted
that he was wholly unqualified for that office : but still he was re-
tained in it by the President until he resigned it voluntarily about
a year afterward. And when he resigned it, what do you think be-
came of him? Why, he sunk into obscurity and disgrace, to be
surCj you will say. No such thing. "Well, then, what did become
of hmi ? Why, the President immediately expressed his high dis-
approbation of his almost unequaled incapacity and corruption by
appointing him to a foreign mission, with a salary and outfit of
$18,000 a year ! The party now attempt to throw Barry off, and
to avoid the responsibility of his sins. Did not the President in-
dorse those sins when, on the very heel of their commission, he ap-
pointed their author to the very highest and most honorable office
in his gift, and which is but a single step behind the very goal of
American political ambition 1

I return to another of Mr. Douglas's excuses for the expenditures
of 1838, at the same time announcing the pleasing intelligence that
this is the last one. He says that ten millions of that year's expen-
diture was a contingent appropriation, to prosecute an anticipated
war with Great Britain on the Maine boundary question. Few
words will settle this. First, that the ten millions appropriated was
not made till 1839, and consequently could not have been expended
in 1838 ; second, although it was appropriated, it has never been ex-
pended at all. Those who heard Mr. Douglas recollect that he in-
dulged himself in a contemptuous expression of pity for me. " Now
he 's got me," thought I. But when he went on to say that five mil-
lions of the expenditure of 1838 were payments of the French indem-
nities, which I knew to be untrue ; that five millions had been for
the Post-office, which I knew to be untrue; that ten millions had
been for the Maine boundary war, which I not only knew to be un-
tme, but supremely ridiculous also; and when I saw that he was
stupid enough to hope that I would permit such groundless and au-
dacious assertions to go unexposed, — I readily consented that, on
the score both of veracity and sagacity, the audience should judge
whether he or I were the more deserving of the world's contempt.

Mr. Lambom insists that the difference between the Van Buren
party and the Whigs is that although the former sometimes err in
practice, they are always correct in principle, whereas the latter are
wrong in principle; and, better to impress this proposition, he uses
a figurative expression in these words : " The Democrats are vulner-
able in the heel, but they are sound in the head and the heart." The
first branch of the figure — that is, that the Democrats are vulnera-
ble in the heel — I admit is not merely figuratively, but literally true.
Who that looks but for a moment at their Swartwouts, their Prices,
their Harringtons, and their hundreds of others, scampering away
with the public money to Texas, to Europe, and to every spot of the
earth where a villain may hope to find refuge from justice, can at
all doubt that they are most distressingly affected in their heels with
a species of " running itch." It seems that this malady of their heels
operates on these sound-headed and honest-hearted creatures very
much like the cork leg in the comic song did on its owner : which.


wlien lie had once got started on it, tlie more he tried to stop it, the
more it would run away. At the hazard of wearing this point thread-
bare, I will relate an anecdote which seems too strildngry in point to
be omitted. A witty Irish soldier, who was always boasting of his
bravery when no danger was near, but who invariably retreated
without orders at the first charge of an engagement, being asked by
his captain why he did so, replied : " Captain, I have as brave a heart
as Julius Caesar ever had ; but, spmehow or other, whenever danger
approaches, my cowardly legs wiU run away with it." So with Mr.
Lamborn's party. They take the public money into their hand for
the most laudable purpose that wise heads and honest hearts can
dictate; but before they can possibly get it out again, their rascally
" vulnerable heels" will run away with them.

Seriously, this proposition of Mr. Lambom is nothing more or less
than a request that his party may be tried by their professions in-
stead of their practices. Perhaps no position that the party assumes
is more liable to or more deserving of exposure than this very modest
request ; and nothing but the unwarrantable length to which I have
already extended these remarks forbids me now attempting to expose
it. For the reason given, I pass it by.

I shall advert to but one more point. Mr. Lamborn refers to the
late elections in the States, and from their results confidently pre-
dicts that every State in the Union will vote for Mr. Van Buren at
the next presidential election. Address that argument to cowards
and to knaves; with the free and the brave it will effect nothing.
It may be true ; if it must, let it. Many free countries have lost
their liberty, and ours may lose hers; but if she shall, be it my
proudest plume, not that I was the last to desert, but that I never
deserted her. I know that the great volcano at Washington, aroused
and directed by the evil spirit that reigns there, is belching forth the
lava of political corruption in a current broad and deep, which is
sweeping with frightful velocity over the whole length and breadth
of the land, bidding fair to leave unscathed no green spot or living
thing; while on its bosom are riding, like demons on the waves of
hell, the imps of that evil spirit, and fiendishly taunting all those
who dare resist its destroying course with the hopelessness of then-
effort ; and, knowing this, I cannot deny that all may be swept away.
Broken by it I, too, may be; bow to it I never wilL The probability
that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the sup-
port of a cause we believe to be just ; it shall not deter me. If ever
I feel the soul within me elevate and expand to those dimensions not
wholly unworthy of its almighty Architect, it is when I contemplate
the cause of my country, deserted by all the world beside, and I
standing up boldly and alone, and hurling defiance at her victorious
oppressors. Here, without contemplating consequences, before high
heaven and in the face of the world, I swear eternal fidelity to the
just cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life, my liberty, and my
love. And who that thinks with me will not fearlessly adopt the
oath that I take ? Let none falter who thinks he is right, and we
may succeed. But if, after all, we shall fail, be it so. We still shall
have the proud consolation of saying to our consciences, and to the


departed shade of our country's freedom, that the cause approved
of our judgment, and adored of our hearts, in disaster, iu chains,
in torture, m death, we never faltered in defending.

December 23, 1839. — Letter to John T. Stuakt.

Springfield, December 23, 1839.

Dear 8tuart: Dr. Henry will write you all the political news. I
write this about some little matters of business. You recollect you
told me you had drawn the Chicago Masaek money, and sent it to

the claimants. A hawk-billed Yankee is here besetting me at

every turn I take, saying that Robert Kinzie never received the
eighty doUars to which he was entitled. Can you teU. anything
about the matter ? Again, old Mr. Wright, who lives up South Pork
somewhere, is teasing me continually about some deeds which he says
he left with you, but which I can find nothing of. Can you tell
where they are ? The legislature is in session, and has suffered the
bank to forfeit its charter without benefit of clergy. There seems to
be little disposition to resuscitate it.

Whenever a letter comes from you to Mrs. , I carry it to her,

and then I see Betty; she is a tolerable nice "feUow" now. Maybe
I will write again when I get more time. Your friend, as ever,

A. Lincoln.

P. S. The Democratic giant is here, but he is not now worth
talking about. A. L.

January 1, 1840. — Letter to John T. Stuart.

Springfield, January 1, 1840.

Dear Stuart : There is considerable disposition, on the part of both
parties in the legislature, to reinstate the law bringing on the con-
gressional elections next summer. What motive for this the Locos
have, I cannot tell. The Whigs say that the canal and other public
works will stop, and consequently we shall then be clear of the for-
eign votes, whereas by another year they may be brought in again.
The Whigs of our district say that everything is in favor of holding
the election next summer, except the fact of your absence, and sev-
eral of them have requested me to ask your opinion on the matter.
Write me immediately what you think of it.

On the other side of this sheet I send you a copy of my Land
Resolutions, which passed both branches of our legislature last win-
ter. Will you show them to Mr. Calhoun, informing him of the
fact of their passage through our legislature 1 Mr. Calhoun sug-

fested a similar proposition last winter; and perhaps if he finds
imself backed by one of the States, he may be induced to take it
up again. You will see by the resolutions that you and the others
of our delegation in Congress are instructed to go for them.

[Without signature.]


January [1 ?], 1840.— Circulae from Whig Committee.

To Messes. .

Gentlemen : In obedience to a resolution of tlie Whig State Con-
vention, we have appointed you the Central Whig Committee of
your county. The trust confided to you will be one of watchfulness
and labor; but we hope the glory of having contributed to the
overthrow of the corrupt powers that now control our beloved
country will be a sufficient reward for the time and labor you will
devote to it. Our Whig brethren throughout the Union have met
in convention, and after due deliberation and mutual concessions
have elected candidates for the presidency and vice-presidency not
only worthy of our cause, but worthy of the support of every true
patriot who would have our country redeemed, and her institutions
honestly and faithfully administered. To overthrow the trained
bands that are opposed to us, whose salaried officers are ever on the
watch, and whose misguided followers are ever ready to obey their
smallest commands, every Whig must not only know his duty, but
must firmly resolve, whatever of time and labor it may cost, boldly
and faithfully to do it. Our intention is to organize the whole
State, so that every Whig can be brought to the polls in the coming
presidential contest. We cannot do this, however, without your co-
operation; and as we do our duty, so we shall expect you to do
yours. Aiter due deliberation, the following is the plan of organi-
zation, and the duties required of each county committee :

(1) To divide their county into small districts, and to appoint in
each a subcommittee, whose duty it shall be to make a perfect list
of all the voters in their respective districts, and to ascertain with
certainty for whom they will vote. If they meet with men who are
doubtful as to the man they wUl support, such voters should be de-
signated in separate lines, with the name of the man they will prob-
ably support.

(2) It will be the duty of said subcommittee to keep a constant
watch on the doubtful voters, and from time to time have them
talked to by those in whom they have the most confidence, and also
to place in their hands such documents as will enlighten and ia-
fluence them.

(3) It will also be their duty to report to you, at least once a
month, the progress they are making, and on election days see that
every Whig is brought to the polls.

(4) The subcommittees should be appointed immediately ; and by
the last of AprU, at least, they should make their first report.

(5) On the first of each month hereafter we shall expect to
hear from you. After the first report of your subcommittees, un-
less there should be found a great many doubtful voters, you can
tell pretty accurately the manner in which your county will vote.
In each of your letters to us, you wiU state the number of certain
votes both for and against us, as well as the number of doubtful
votes, with your opinion of the manner in which they will be cast.


(6) When we have heard from all the counties, we shall be able
to tell with similai- accuracy the political complexion of the State.
This information will be forwarded to you as soon as received.

(7) Inclosed is a prospectus for a newspaper to be continued
until after the presidential election. It will be superintended by
ourselves, and every Whig in the State must take it. It will be
published so low that every one can afford it. You must raise a
fund and forward us for extra copies, — every county ought to send
fifty or one hundred dollars, — and the copies will be forwarded to
you for distribution among our political opponents. The paper will
be devoted exclusively to the great cause in which we are engaged.
Procure subscriptions, and forward them to us immediately.

(8) Immediately after any election in your county, you must in-
form us of its results ; and as early as possible after any general
election we will give you the like information.

(9) A senator in Congress is to be elected by our next legisla-
ture. Let no local interests divide you ; but select candidates that
can succeed.

(10) Our plan of operations will of course be concealed from every
one except our good friends who of right ought to know them.

Trusting much in our good cause, the strength of our candidates,
and the determination of the Whigs everywhere to do their duty,
we go to the work of organization in this State confident of success.
We have the numbers, and if properly organized and exerted, with
the gallant Harrison at our head, we shall meet our foes and con-
quer them in all parts of the Union.

Address your letters to Dr. A. G. Henry, R. F. Barrett, A. Lin-
coln, E. D. Baker, J. F. Speed.

January 20, 1840. — Letter to John T. Stuart.

Springfield, January 20, 1840.

Dear Stuart: Yours of the 5th instant is received. It is the
first from you for a great while. You wish the news from here.
The legislature is in session yet, but has done nothing of impor-
tance. The following is my guess as to what will be done. The
internal improvement system will be put down in a lump without
benefit of clergy. The bank will be resuscitated with some trifiing
modifications. Whether the canal will go ahead or stop is very
doubtful. Whether the State House wiQ go ahead depends upon
the laws already in force. A proposition made in the House to-day,
to throw off to the Territory of Wisconsin about fourteen of our
northern counties, decided : ayes, eleven ; noes, seventy. Be sure to
send me as many copies of the " Life of Harrison " as you can spare
from other uses. Be very sure to procure and send me the " Senate
Journal" of New York of September, 1814. I have a newspaper
article which says that that document proves that Van Buren^ voted
against raising troops in the last war. And, in general, send me
everything you think wiU be a good " war-club."

The nomination of Harrison takes first-rate. You know I am


never sanguine ; but I believe we will carry the State. The chance
for doing so appears to me twenty-five per cent, better than it did
for you to beat Douglas. A great many of the grocery sort of Van
Buren men, as formerly, are out for Harrison. Our Irish black-
smith, Gregory, is for Harrison. I believe I may say that all our
friends think the chance of carrying the State very good. You
have heard that the Whigs and Locos had a political discussion
shortly after the meeting of the legislature. Well, I made a big
speech which is in progress of printing in pamphlet form. To en-
lighten you and the rest of the world, I shall send you a copy when
it is finished. I can't think of anything else now.

Your friend, as ever, A. Lincoln.

January 21, 1840.— Letter to John T. Stuaht.

Springfield, January 21, 1840.
Bear Stuart : A bill bringing on the congressioijal elections in
this State next summer has passed the House of Representatives
this minute. As I think it will also pass the Senate, I take the
earliest moment to advise you of it. I do not think any one of our
political friends wishes to push you off the track. Anticipating the
introduction of this bill, I wrote you for your feelings on the subject
several weeks since, but have received no answer. It may_ be that
my letter miscarried ; if so, will you, on the receipt of this, write
me what you think and feel about the matter ? Nothing new except
I believe I have got our Truett debt secured. I have Truett's note
at twelve months, with his brother Myers as security.

Your friend, as ever, A. Lincoln.

March 1, 1840. — Letter to John T. Stuart.

Springfield, March 1, 1840.
Bear Stuart : I have never seen the prospects of our party so
bright in these parts as they are now. We shall carry this county
by a larger majority than we did in 1836, when you ran against
May. I do not think my prospects individually are very flattering,
for I think it probable I shall not be permitted to be a candidate ;
but the party ticket will succeed triumphantly. Subscriptions to
the " Old Soldier " pour in without abatement. This morning I
took from the post-of&ce a letter from Dubois inclosing the names
of sixty subscribers; and on carrying it to Francis, I found he
had received one hundred and forty more from other quarters by

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 5 of 91)