Abraham Lincoln.

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

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tories, we find a practical illustration of the boasted Democratic principle
of non-intervention and popidar sovereignty embodied in the Kansas-
Nebraska biU, and a demonstration of the deception and fraud involved


11. That Kansas should, of right, be immediately admitted as a State
under the constitution recently formed and adopted by her people, and ac-
cepted by the House of Representatives.

• 12. That whUe providing revenue for the support of the General Govern-
ment by duties upon imports, sound pohcy requires such an adjustment of
these imposts as to encourage the development of the industrial interests of
the whole country; and we commend that pohcy of national exchanges
which secures to the worMng-men liberal wages, to agriculture remunerat-
ing prices, to mechanics and manufacturers an adequate reward for their
skill, labor, and enterprise, and to the nation commercia.1 prosperity and

13. That we protest against any sale or alienation to others of the pub-
lic lands held by actual settlers, and against any view of the free-home-
stead pohcy which regards the settlers as paupers or suppliants for public
bounty; and we demand the passage by Congress of the complete and sat-
isfactory homestead measure which has already passed the House.

14. That the national Republican party is opposed to any change in our
naturahzation laws, or any State legislation by which the rights of citizen-
ship hitherto accorded to immigrants from foreign lands shall be abridged
or impaired; and in favor of giving a full and efficient protection to the
rights of aU classes of citizens, whether native or naturalized, both at home
and abroad.

15. That appropriations by Congress for river and harbor improvements
of a national character, required for the accommodation and security of an
existing commerce, are authorized by the Constitution and justified by the
obligation of government to protect the hves and property of its citizens.

16. That a raib*oad to the Pacific Ocean is imperatively demanded by the
interests of the whole country; that the Federal Government ought to ren-
der immediate and ef&cient aid in its construction ; and that, as prehminary
thereto, a daily overland mail should be promptly established.

17. Finally, having thus set forth our distinctive principles and views,
we invite the cooperation of all citizens, however differing on other ques-
tions, who substantially agree with us in their affirmance and support.

May 26, 1860. — Letter to E. B. Washbuene.

Springfield, Illinois, May 26, 1860.
Hon. E. B. Washburne.

My dear Sir: I have several letters from you written since the
nomination, but till now have found no moment to say a word by
way of answer. Of course I am glad that the nomination is well re-
ceived by our friends, and I sincerely thank you for so informing
me. So far as I can learn, the nominations start well everywhere;
and, if they get no back-set, it would seem as If they are going
through. I hope you will write often ; and as you write more rap-
idly than I do, don't make your letters so short as mine.

Yours very truly, A. Lincoln.

May 26, I860.— Letter to S. P. Chase.

Springfield, Illinois, May 26, I860.
Hon. S. p. Chase.

My dear Sir: It gave me great pleasure to receive yours mis-
takenly dated May 17. Holding myself the humblest of aU whose


names were before the convention, I feel in especial need of the as-
sistance of all; and I am glad — very glad — of the indication that
you stand readj'. It is a great consolation that so nearly all — all
except Mr. Bates and Mr. Clay, I believe — of those distinguished and
able men are already in high position to do service in the common
cause. Your obedient servant,

A. Lincoln.

[June ?] 1860. — Form of Reply prepared by Me. Lincoln, with
WHICH HIS Private Secretary was instructed to answer a
Nltmeeous Class op Letters in the Campaign of 1860.


Springfield, Illinois, , 1860.

Dear Sir: Your letter to Mr. Lincoln of , and by which

you seek to obtain his opinions on certain political points, has
been received by him. He has received others of a similar character,
but he also has a greater number of the exactly opposite character.
The latter class beseech him to write nothing whatever upon any
point of political doctrine. They say his positions were well known
when he was nominated, and that he must not now embarrass the
canvass by undertaking to shift or modify them. He regrets that
he cannot oblige all, but you perceive it is impossible for him to do so.

Yours, etc., Jno. G. Nicolay.

June [1 ?], 1860. — Short Autobiography written at the Reqltist
OP A Friend to use in preparing a Popular Campaign Biog-
raphy IN THE Election op 1860.

Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809, then in Hardin,
now in the more recently formed county of La Rue, Kentucky. His
father, Thomas, and grandfather, Abraham, were born in Rocking-
ham County, Virginia, whither their ancestors had come from Berks
County, Pennsylvania. His lineage has been traced no farther back
than this. The family were originally Quakers, though in later times
they have fallen away from the peculiar habits of that people. The
grandfather, Abraham, had four brothers — Isaac, Jacob, John, and
Thomas. So far as known, the descendants of Jacob and John are
still in Virginia. Isaac went to a place near where Virginia, North
Carolina, and Tennessee join ; and his descendants are in that re-
gion. Thomas came to Kentucky, and after many years died there,
whence his descendants went to Missourf. Abraham, grandfather of
the subject of this sketch, came to Kentucky, and was killed by In-
dians about the year 1784. He left a widow, three sons, and two
daughters. The eldest son, Mordecai, remained in Kentucky till late
in life, when he removed to Hancock County, Illinois, where soon
after he died, and where several of his descendants still remain. The
second son, Josiah, removed at an early day to a place on Blue River,
now within Hancock County, Indiana, but no recent information of


him or his family has been obtained. The eldest sister, Mary, mar-
ried Ralph Crume, and some of her descendants are now known to
be in Brecbenridge County, Kentucky. The second sister, Nancy,
married William Brumfield, and her family are not known to have left
Kentucky, but there is no recent information from them. Thomas,
the youngest son, and father of the present subject, by the early
death of his father, and very narrow circumstances of his mother,
even in childhood was a wandering laboring-boy, and grew up liter-
ally "without education. He never did more in the way of writing
than to bunglingly write his own name. Before he was grown he
passed one year as a hired hand with his uncle Isaac on Watauga,
a branch of the Holston River. Getting back into Kentucky, and
having reached his twenty-eighth year, he married Nancy Hanks —
mother of the present subject — in the year 1806. She also was born
in Virginia ; and relatives of hers of the name of Hanks, and of
other names, now reside in Coles, in Macon, and in Adams counties,
Illinois, and also in Iowa. The present subject has no brother or
sister of the whole or half blood. He had a sister, older than him-
self, who was grown and married, but died many years ago, leaving
no child ; also a brother, younger than himself, who died in infancy.
Before leaving Kentucky, he and his sister were sent, for short
periods, to A B C schools, the first kept by Zachariah Riney, and
the second by Caleb Hazel.

At this time his father resided on Knob Creek, on the road from
Bardstown, Kentucky, to Nashville, Tennessee, at a point three or
three and a half miles south or southwest of Atherton's Perry, on the
Rolling Fork. From this place he removed to what is now Spencer
County, Indiana, in the autumn of 1816, Abraham then being in
his eighth year. This removal was pai'tly on account of slavery,
but chiefly on account of the difficulty in land titles in Kentucky. He
settled in an unbroken forest, and the clearing away of surplus wood
was the great task ahead. Abraham, though very young, was large
of his age, and had an ax put into his hands at once; and from that
till within his twenty-third year he was almost constantly handhng
that most useful instrument — less, of course, in plowing and har-
vesting seasons. At this place Abraham took an early start as a
hunter, which was never much improved afterward. A few days
before the completion of his eighth year, in the absence of his father,
a flock of wild turkeys approached the new log cabin, and Abraham
with a rifle-gun, standing inside, shot through a crack and killed one
of them. He has never since pulled a trigger on any larger game.
In the autumn of 1818 his mother died; and a year afterward his
father married Mrs. Sally Johnston, at Elizabeth town, Kentucky,
a widow with three children of her first marriage. She proved a
good and kind mother to Abraham, and is still living in Coles
County, Illinois. There were no children of this second marriage.
His father's residence continued at the same place in Indiana till
1830. While here Abraham went to A B C schools by littles, kept

successively by Andrew Crawford, Sweeney, and Azel W. Dor-

sey. He does not remember any other. The family of Mr. Dor-
sey now resides in Schuyler County, Illinois. Abraham now thinks


that the aggregate of all his schooling did not amount to one year.
He was never in a college or academy as a student, and never inside
of a college or academy buUding till since he had a law license.
What he has in the way of education he has picked up. After
he was twenty-three and had separated from his father, he studied
English grammar — imperfectly, of course, but so as to speak and
write as well as he now does. He studied and nearly mastered the
six books of EueUd since he was a member of Congress. He regrets
his want of education, and does what he can to supply the want.
In his tenth year he was kicked by a horse, and apparently killed
for a time. When he was nineteen, still residing in Indiana, he
made his first trip upon a flatboat to New Orleans. He was a hired
hand merely, and he and a son of the owner, without other assis-
tance, made the trip. The nature of part of the " cargo-load," as
it was called, made it necessary for them to linger and trade along
the sugar-coast ; and one night they were attacked by seven negroes
with intent to kill and rob them. They were hurt some in the mel6e,
but succeeded in driving the negroes from the boat, and then " cut
cable," "weighed anchor," and left.

March 1, 1830, Abraham having just completed his twenty-first
year, his father and family, with the families of the two daughters
and sons-in-law of his stepmother, left the old homestead in Indiana
and came to Illinois. Their mode of conveyance was wagons drawn
by ox-teams, and Abraham drove one of the teams. They reached
the county of Macon, and stopped there some time within the same
month of March. His father and family settled a new place on the
north side of the Sangamon River, at the junction of the timber-
land and prairie, about ten miles westerly from Decatur. Here they
built a log cabin, into which they removed, and made suflcient of rails
to fence ten acres of ground, fenced and broke the ground, and
raised a crop of sown corn upon it the same year. These are, or are
supposed to be, the rails about which so much is being said just now,
though these are far from being the first or only raUs ever made by

The sons-in-law were temporai-ily settled in other places in the
county. In the autumn all hands were greatly afflicted with ague
and fever, to which they had not been used, and by which they were
greatly discouraged, so much so that they determined on leaving the
county. They remained, however, through the succeeding winter,
which was the winter of the very celebrated " deep snow" of Illinois.
During that winter Abraham, together with his stepmother's son,
John D. Johnston, and John Hanks, yet residing in Macon County,
hired themselves to Denton Offutt to take a flatboat from Beardsto wn,
Illinois, to New Orleans ; and for that purpose were to join him —
Offutt — at Springfield, Illinois, so soon as the snow should go off.
When it did go off, which was about the first of March, 1831, the
county was so flooded as to make traveling by land impracticable ;
to obviate which difficulty thej^ purchased a large canoe, and came
down the Sangamon River in it. This is the time and the manner,
of Abraham's first entrance into Sangamon County. They found
Offutt at Springfield, but learned from him that he had failed in get-


ting a boat at Beardstown. This led to their hiring themselves to
him for twelve dollars per month each, and getting the timber out
of the trees and building a boat at Old Sangamon town on the Sanga-
mon River, seven miles northwest of Springfield, which boat they took
to New Orleans, substantially upon the old contract.

During this boat-enterprise acquaintance with Offutt, who was pre-
viously an entire stranger, he conceived a liking for Abraham, and
believing he could turn him to account, he contracted with him to
act as clerk for him, on his return from New Orleans, in charge of
a store and mill at New Salem, then in Sangamon, now in Menard
Countj^. Hanks had not gone to New Orleans, but having a family,
and being likely to be detained from home longer than at first ex-
pected, had turned back from St. Louis. He is the same John Hanks
who now engineers the "rail enterprise" at Decatur, and is a first
cousin to Abraham's mother. Abraham's father, with his own family
and others mentioned, had, in pursuance of their intention, removed
from Macon to Coles County. John D.Johnston, the stepmother's son,
went to them, and Abraham stopped indefinitely and for the first time,
as it were, by himself at New Salem, before mentioned. This was in July,
1831. Here he rapidly made acquaintances and friends. In less than
a year Offutt's business was failing — had almost failed — when the
Black Hawk war of 1832 broke out. Abraham joined a volunteer
company, and, to his own surprise, was elected captain of it. He says
he has not since had any success in life which gave him so much sat-
isfaction. He went to the campaign, served near three months, met
the ordinary hardships of such an expedition, but was in no battle.
He now owns, in Iowa, the land upon which his own warrants for the
service were located. Returning from the campaign, and encouraged
by his great popularity among his immediate neighbors, he the same
year ran for the legislature, and was beaten, — his own precinct, how-
ever, casting its votes 277 for and 7 against him — and that, too,
while he was an avowed Clay man, and the precinct the autumn
afterward giving a majority of 115 to General Jackson over Mr.
Clay. This was the only time Abraham was ever beaten on a direct
vote of the people. He was now without means and out of business,
but was anxious to remain with his friends who had treated him with
so miich generosity, especially as he had nothing elsewhere to go to.
He studied what he should do — thought of learning the blacksmith
trade — thought of trying to study law —rather thought he could not
succeed at that without a better education. Before long, strangely
enough, a man offered to sell, and did sell, to Abraham and another
as poor as himself, an old stock of goods, upon credit. They opened
as merchants ; and he says that was the store. Of course they did
nothing but get deeper and deeper in debt. He was appointed post-
master at New Salem — the oflce being too insignificant to make his
politics an objection. The store winked out. The surveyor of San-
gamon offered to depute to Abraham that portion of his work which
was within his part of the county. He accepted, procured a compass
and chain, studied Flint and Gibson a little, and went at it. This pro-
cured bread, and kept soul and body together. The election of 1834
came, and he was then elected to the legislature by the highest vote
Vol. L— 41.


cast for any candidate. Major John T. Stuart, then in full practice
of the law, was also elected. During the canvass, in a private con-
versation he encouraged Abraham [to] study law. After the election
he borrowed books of Stuart, took them home with him, and went
at it in good earnest. He studied with nobody. He still mixed in
the surveying to pay board and clothing bills. When the legislature
met, the law-books were dropped, but were taken up again at the end
of the session. He was reelected in 1836, 1838, and 1840. In the
autumn of 1836 he obtained a law license, and on April 15, 1837,
removed to Springfield, and commenced the practice — his old friend
Stuart taking him into partnership. March 3, 1837, by a protest
entered upon the " Illinois House Journal " of that date, at pages 817
and 818, Abraham, with Dan Stone, another representative of Sanga-
mon, briefly defined his position on the slavery question; and so far
as it goes, it was then the same that it is now. The protest is as
follows :

Resolutions upoa the subject of domestic slavery having passed both
branches of the General Assembly at its present session, the undersigned
hereby protest against the passage of the same.

They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice
and bad pohcy, but that the promulgation of Abohtion doctrines tends
rather to increase than abate its evils.

They beUeve that the Congress of the United States has no power under
the Constitution to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different

They believe that the Congress of the United States has the power, under
the Constitution, to abohsh slavery in the District of Columbia, but that the
power ought not to be exercised unless at the request of the people of the

The difference between these opinions and those contained in the above
resolutions is their reason for entering this protest.

Dan Stone,
A. Lincoln,
Representatives from the County of Sangamon.

In 1838 and 1840, Mr. Lincoln's party voted for him as Speaker,
but being in the minority he was not elected. After 1840 he decUned
a reelection to the legislature. He was on the Harrison electoral
ticket in 1840, and on that of Clay in 1844, and spent much time and
labor in both those canvasses. In November, 1842, he was married to
Mary, daughter of Robert S. Todd, of Lexington, Kentuckj'. They
have three living children, all sons, one born in 1843, one in 1850,
and one in 1853. They lost one, who was born in 1846.

In 1846 he was elected to the lower House of Congress, and served
one term only, commencing in December, 1847, and ending with the
inauguration of General Taylor, in March, 1849. All the battles of
the Mexican war had been fought before Mr. Lincoln took his seat
in Congress, but the American army was still in Mexico, and the
treaty of peace was not fully and formally ratified till the June
afterward. Much has been said of his course in Congress in regard
to this war. A careful examination of the "Journal" and "Congres-
sional Globe " shows that he voted for all the supply measures that


came up, and for all the measures in any way favorable to the officers,
soldiers, and their families, who conducted the war through : with
the exception that some of these measures passed without yeas and
nays, leaving no record as to how particular men voted. The " Jour-
nal" and " Globe" also show him voting that the war was unneces-
sarily and unconstitutionally begun by the President of the United
States. This is the language of Mr. Ashmun's amendment, for which
Mr. Lincoln and nearly or quite all other "Whigs of the House of
Representatives voted.

Mr. Lincoln's reasons for the opinion expressed by this vote were
briefly that the President had sent General Taylor into an inhabited
part of the country belonging to Mexico, and not to the United
States, and thereby had provoked the first act of hostility, in fact
the commencement of the war ; that the place, being the country
bordering on the east bank of the Rio Grande, was inhabited by
native Mexicans, born there under the Mexican government, and
had never submitted to, nor been conquered by, Texas or the United
States, nor transferred to either by treaty; that although Texas
claimed the Rio Grande as her boundary, Mexico had never recog-
nized it, and neither Texas nor the United States had ever enforced
it; that there was a broad desert between that and the country
over which Texas had actual control; that the country where hos-
tilities commenced, having once belonged to Mexico, must remain
so until.it was somehow legally transferred, which had never been

Mr. Lincoln thought the act of sending an armed force among the
Mexicans was iinnecessary, inasmuch as Mexico was in no way
molesting or menacing the United States or the people thereof ; and
that it was unconstitutional, because the power of levying war is
vested in Congress, and not in the President. He thought the
principal motive for the act was to divert public attention from
the surrender of "Fifty-four, forty, or fight" to Great Britain, on
the Oregon boundary question.

Mr. Lincoln was not a candidate for reelection. This was deter-
mined upon and declared before he went to Washington, in accor-
dance with an understanding among Whig friends, by which Colonel
Hardin and Colonel Baker had each previously served a single term
in this same district.

In 1848, during his term in Congress, he advocated General Tay-
lor's nomination for the presidency, in opposition to all others, and
also took an active part for his election after his nomination, speak-
ing a few times in Maryland, near Washington, several times in
Massachusetts, and canvassing quite f uUy his own district in Illinois,
which was followed by a majority in the district of over 1500 for
General Taylor.

Upon his return from Congress he went to the practice of the law
with greater earnestness than ever before. In 1852 he was upon the
Scott electoral ticket, and did something in the way of canvassing,
but owing to the hopelessness of the cause in Illinois he did less than
in previous presidential canvasses.

In 1854 his profession had almost superseded the thought of


politics in his mind, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
aroused him as he had never been before.

In the autumn of that year he took the stump with no broader
practical aim or object than to secure, if possible, the reelection of
Hon. Richard Yates to Congress. His speeches at once attracted
a more marked attention than they had ever before done. As the
canvass proceeded he was drawn to different parts of the State out-
side of Mr. Yates's district. He did not abandon the law, but gave
his attention by turns to that and politics. The State agricultural
fair was at Springfield that year, and Douglas was announced to
speak there.

In the canvass of 1856 Mr. Lincoln made over fifty speeches, no one
of which, so far as he remembers, was put in print. One of them was
made at Galena, but Mr. Lincoln has no recollection of any part of
it being printed ; nor does he remember whether in that speech he
said anything about a Supreme Court decision. He may have spoken
upon that subject, and some of the newspapers may have reported
him as saying what is now ascribed to him ; but he thinks he could
not have expressed himself as represented.

June 14, 1860. — Autobiographical Memorandum given to the

Artist Hicks.

I was born February 12, 1809, in then Hardin County, Kentucky,
at a point within the now county of La Rue, a mile, or a mile and a
half, from where Hodgen's mill now is. My parents being dead, and
my own memory not serving, I know no means of identifying the
precise locality. It was on Nolin Creek.

June 14, 1860. -^- Lincoln.

June 28, 1860. — Letter to W. C. Bryant.

Springfield, Illinois, June 28, 1860.
Mr. Wm. C. Bryant.

My dear Sir : Please accept my thanks for the honor done me by
your letter of the 16th. I appreciate the danger against which you
would guard me, nor am I wanting in the purpose to avoid it. I
thank you for the additional strength your words give me to main-

Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 85 of 91)