Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

History of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life online

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Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 3 of 46)
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then cited from Democratic speeches and platforms of
former days to show that they occupied then the very
opposite ground on the question from that which was
taken now, and showed up the evasive character of
Douglas s answers to the questions which he had pro
posed, especially the subterfuge of " unfriendly legis
lation" which he had set forth as the means by which
the people of a Territory could exclude Slavery from
its limits in spite of the Drod Scott decision.

When Mr. Lincoln was preparing these questions for
Douglas, he was urged by some of his friends not to
corner him on that point, because he would surely
stand by his doctrine of Squatter Sovereignty in dell-


ance of the Dred Scott decision, " and that," said they,
"will make him Senator." "That may be," said Mr.
Lincoln, with a twinkle in his eye, " but if he takes
that shoot he never can be President."

Mr. Lincoln s sagacity did not fail him here. This
position which Douglas took of " unfriendly legis
lation," was a stumbling-block which he was never
able to get over ; and if the contest between them had
brought out no other good result, the compelling
Douglas to take this ground was an immense success.

The fourth speech, at Charleston, was devoted by
Mr. Lincoln to enlarging upon the evidence of a charge
previously made by Judge Trumbull upon Douglas of
being himself responsible for a clause in the Kansas
bill which would have deprived the people of Kansas
of the right to vote upon their own Constitution
a charge which Douglas could never try to answer
without losing his temper.

In the fifth debate, Mr. Lincoln answered the charge
that the Republican party was sectional ; and after again
exploding the fraudulent resolutions and giving strong
proof that Douglas himself was a party to the fraud,
and again showing that Douglas had failed to answer
his question about the acceptance of the new Dred
Scott decision, which, he said, was "just as sure to be
made as to-morrow is to come, if the Democratic party
shall be sustained" in the elections, he discussed the
acquisition of further territory and the importance of
deciding upon any such acquisition, by the effect which
it would have upon the Slavery question among our

In the next debate, at Quincy, besides making some


personal points as to the mode in which Douglas had
conducted the previous discussions, he stated clearly
and briefly what were the principles of the Republican
party, what they proposed to do, and what they did not
propose to do. He said that they looked upon Slavery
as " a moral, a social, and a political wrong," and they
" proposed a course of conduct which should treat it as
a wrong ;" did not propose to "disturb it in the States,"
but did propose to "restrict it to its present limits;"
did not propose to decide that Dred Scott was free, but
did not believe that the decision in that case was a po
litical rule binding the voters, the Congress, or the Presi
dent, and proposed "so resisting it as to have it re
versed if possible, and a new judicial rule established
on the subject."

Mr. Lincoln s last speech, at Alton, was a very full
and conclusive argument of the whole Slavery Ques
tion. He showed that the present Democratic doctrines
were not those held at the time of the Revolution in
reference to Slavery ; showed how the agitation of the
country had come from the attempt to set Slavery upon
a different footing, and showed the dangers to the
country of this attempt. He brought the whole contro
versy down to the vital question whether Slavery is
wrong or not, and demonstrated that the present Demo
cratic sentiment was that it was not wrong, and that
Douglas and those who sympathized with him did not
desire or expect ever to see the country freed from this
gigantic evil.

It must not be supposed that these seven debates
were all of Mr. Lincoln s appearances before the people
during the campaign. He made some fifty other


speeches all over the State, and everywhere his strong
arguments, his forcible language, and his homely way
of presenting the great issues, so as to bring them home
to the hearts of the people, had a powerful effect. The
whole State fairly boiled with the excitement of the
contest. Nor this alone, for all over the country the
eyes of the people were turned to Illinois as the great
battle-ground, and the earnest wishes of almost all who
loved freedom followed Mr. Lincoln throughout all the
heated struggle. He had, however, other opposition
besides that of his political opponents. The action of
Judge Douglas on the Lecomptun Constitution, and the
bitter hostility of the southern wing of the Democratic
party towards him, had led very many Republicans,
and some of high consideration and influence in other
States, to favor his return to the Senate. They deemed
this due to the zeal and efficiency with which he had
resisted the attempt to force slavery into Kansas against
the will of the people, and as important in encouraging
other Democratic leaders to imitate the example of
Douglas in throwing off the yoke of the slaveholding
aristocracy. This feeling proved to be of a good deal
of weight against Mr. Lincoln in the canvas.

Then, again, the State had been so unfairly districted,
that the odds were very heavily against the Kepubli-
cans, and thus it came about that although on the
popular vote Douglas was beaten by more than five
thousand votes, he was enabled to carry off the sub
stantial prize of victory by his majority in the Legisla
ture. We say the " substantial prize of victory," and
so it was thought to be at the time. But later events
showed that the battle which was then fought was after
all but the precursor of the Presidential contest, and


that it insured to Mr. Lincoln tlie victory in that more
important struggle.

Between the close of this Senatorial contest and the
opening of the Presidential campaign, Mr. Lincoln
made several visits to other States. In the following
year he took an active part in the political campaign in
Ohio, still following up his old opponent, who had but
recently contributed to Harper s Magazine his famous
article on Slavery and the Constitution. He also
visited Kansas, and was received with unbounded en
thusiasm by the people of that State, whose battle he had
fought so well ; and in February, 1860, he visited New
York, and there made a speech on National Politics
before the Young Men s ^Republican Club at Cooper
Institute, the effect of which was to make him better
known and still more highly esteemed in New York,
where his contest with Douglas had already made him
many friends. Indeed, we think we hardly state it too
strongly when we say, that their joint effect was to
make Mr. Lincoln decidedly the second choice of the
great body of the Eepublicans of New York, as the
candidate of the Eepublican party for the campaign
of 1860.

It was, doubtless, during this visit of Mr. Lincoln to
New York that the following incident occurred, which
is thus narrated by a teacher at the Five Points House
of Industry : " Our Sunday School in the Five Points
was assembled, one Sabbath morning, when I noticed
a tall, remarkable looking man enter the room and
take a seat among us. He listened with fixed attention
to our exercises, and his countenance expressed such
genuine interest that I approached him and suggested



that lie might be willing to say something to the chil
dren. He accepted the invitation with evident pleasure ;
and coming forward began a simple address, which at
once fascinated every little hearer and hushed the room
into silence. His language was strikingly beautiful,
and his tones musical with intensest feeling. The little
faces around him would droop into sad conviction as
he uttered sentences of warning, and would brighten
into sunshine as he spoke cheerful words of promise.
Once or twice he attempted to close his remarks, but
the imperative shout of Go on ! Oh, do go on !
would compel him to resume. As I looked upon the
gaunt and sinewy frame of the stranger, and marked
his powerful head and determined features, now touched
into softness by the impressions of the moment, I felt
an irrepressible curiosity to learn something more about
him, and when he was quietly leaving the room I
begged to know his name. He courteously replied,
4 It is Abraham Lincoln, from Illinois.

The Republican National Convention of 1860, met
on the 16th of May, at Chicago, in an immense building
which the people of Chicago had put up for the pur
pose, called the Wigwam. There were 465 Delegates.
The city was filled with earnest men, who had come
there to press the claims of their favorite candidates,
and the halls and corridors of all the hotels swarmed,
and buzzed with an eager crowd, in and out of which
darted or pushed or wormed their way the various
leaders of party politics. Mr. Chase, Mr. Bates, and
Mr. Cameron were spoken of and pressed somewhat as
candidates, but from the first it was evident that the
contest lay between Mr. Seward and Mr. Lincoln.


Judge Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, was chosen tempo
rary Chairman of the Convention, and in the afternoon
of the first day a permanent organization was effected
by the choice of George Ashmun, of Massachusetts, as
President, with 27 Vice-Presidents and 25 Secretaries.
On Thursday, the 17th, the Committee on Kesolutions
reported the platform, which was enthusiastically
adopted. A motion was made to proceed to the nomi
nation at once, and if that had been done the result of
the Convention might have proved very different, as at
that time it was thought that Mr. Seward s chances
were the best. But an adjournment was taken till the
morning, and during the night the combinations were
made which resulted in the nomination of Mr. Lincoln.
The excitement of the Convention and of the audience
on the morning of Friday was intense. The Illinoisans
had turned out in great numbers, zealous for Lincoln,
and though the other States, near and far, had sent
many men who were equally zealous for Mr. Seward,
it was quite clear that Mr. Lincoln s supporters were in
the majority in the audience. The first ballot gave
Mr. Seward 173J votes to 102 for Mr. Lincoln, the rest
being scattered. On the second ballot the first indica
tion of the result was felt, when the Chairman of the
Vermont Delegation, which had been divided on the pre
vious ballot, announced when the name of Yermont was
called, that " Vermont casts her ten votes for the young
giant of the West, Abraham Lincoln." On the second
ballot, Mr. Seward had 184.}- to 181 for Mi\ Lincoln, and
on the third ballot Mr. Lincoln received 230 votes, being
within 1-J- of a majority. The vote was not announced,
but so many everywhere had kept the count that it was


known throughout the Convention at once. Mr. Car
ter, of Ohio, rose and announced a change in the vote of
the Ohio Delegation of four votes in favor of Mr. Lin
coln, and the Convention at once boiled over into a
state of the wildest excitement. The cheers of the
audience within were answered by those of a yet larger
crowd without, to whom the result was announced.
Cannon roared, and bands played, and banners waved,
and the excited Eepublicans of Chicago cheered them
selves hoarse, while on the wings of electricity sped in
every direction the news of Mr. Lincoln s nomination,
to be greeted everywhere with similar demonstrations.
It was long before the Convention could calm itself
enough to proceed to business. When it did, other
States changed their votes in favor of the successful
nominee until it was announced, as the result of the
third ballot, that Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, had re-
coived 354 votes and was nominated by the Republican
party for the office of President of the United States.
The nomination was then, on the motion of Mr. Evarts,
of New York, made unanimous, and the Convention
adjourned till the afternoon, when they completed their
work by nominating Hannibal Hamlin for Vice-Presi-

Mr. Lincoln was at Springfield at the time. He had
been in the telegraph office during the casting of the
first and second ballots, but then left, and went over to
the office of the State Journal, where he was sitting
conversing with friends while the third ballot was
being taken. In a few moments came across the wires
the announcement of the result. The Superintendent
of the Telegraph Company, who was present, wrote on


a scrap of paper, "Mr. Lincoln: You are nominated
on the third ballot," and a boy ran with the message to
Mr. Lincoln. He looked at it in silence amid the
shouts of those around him, then rising and putting it
in his pocket he said quietly, "There s a little woman
down at our house would like to hear this I ll go
down and tell her."

Next day there arrived at Springfield the committee
appointed by the Convention to inform Mr. Lincoln
officially of his nomination; Mr. Ashmun, President
of the Convention, addressing Mr. Lincoln, said :

" I have, sir, the honor, in behalf of the gentlemen
who are present a Committee appointed by the Ke-
publican Convention recently assembled at Chicago
to discharge a most pleasant duty. We have come, sir,
under a vote of instructions to that Committee, to noti
fy you that you have been selected by the Convention
of the Republicans at Chicago for President of the
United States. They instruct us, sir, to notify you of
that selection, and that Committee deem it not only
respectful to yourself, but appropriate to the important
matter which they have in hand, that they should come
in person, and present to you the authentic evidence of
the action of that Convention; and, sir, without any
phrase which shall either be considered personally
plauditory to yourself, or which shall have any refer
ence to the principles involved in the questions which
are connected with your nomination, I desire to present
to you the letter which has been prepared, and which
informs you of your nomination, and with it the plat
form resolutions and sentiments which the Convention
adopted. Sir, at your convenience we shall be glad to


receive from you such a response as it may be your
pleasure to give us."

Mr. Lincoln listened to this address with a degree of
grave dignity that almost wore the appearance of sad
ness, and after a brief pause, in which he seemed to be
pondering the momentous responsibilities of his posi
tion, he thus replied :

" Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Committee
I tender to you, and through you to the Eepublican
National Convention, and all the people represented in
it, my profoundest thanks for the high honor done me,
which you now formally announce. Deeply, and even
painfully sensible of the great responsibility which is
inseparable from this high honor a responsibility
which I could almost wish had fallen upon some one
of the far more eminent men and experienced states
men whose distinguished names were before the Con
vention, I shall, by your leave, consider more fully the
resolutions of the Convention, denominated the plat
form, and without any unnecessary or unreasonable de
lay, respond to you, Mr.. Chairman, in writing, not
doubting that the platform will be found satisfactory,
and the nomination gratefully accepted.

"And now I will not longer defer the pleasure of
taking you, and each of you, by the hand "

Tall Judge Kelly, of Pennsylvania, who was one of
the Committee, and who is himself a great many feet
high, had meanwhile been eyeing Mr. Lincoln s lofty
form with a mixture of admiration and very likely
jealousy ; this had not escaped Mr. Lincoln, and as he
shook hands with the judge he inquired, "What is
your height?"


" Six feet three ; what is yours, Mr. Lincoln?"

"Six feet four."

"Then," said the judge, "Pennsylvania bows to Illi
nois. My dear man, for years my heart has been ach
ing for a President that I could look up to, and I ve
found him at last in the land where we thought there
were none but little giants."

Mr. Lincoln s formal reply to the official announce
ment of his nomination, was as follows :

SIR I accept the nomination tendered me by the
Convention over which you presided, of which I am
formally apprised in a letter of yourself and others act
ing as a Committee of the Convention for that purpose.
The declaration of principles and sentiments which ac
companies your letter meets my approval, and it shall
be my care not to violate it, or disregard it in any part.
Imploring the assistance of Divine Providence, and with
due regard to the views and feelings of all who were
represented in the Convention, to the rights of all the
states and territories and people of the nation, to the
inviolability of the Constitution, and the perpetual
union, harmony, and prosperity of all, I am most happy
to co-operate for the practical success of the principles
declared by the Convention.

Your obliged friend and fellow-citizen,


President of tlie Republican Convention.

Mr. Linco.ln s nomination proved universally accept
able to the Republican party. They recognized in him
a man of firm principles, of ardent love for freedom,


of strict integrity and truth, and they went into the
political contest with a zeal and enthusiasm which was
the guarantee of victory ; while the doubt and uncer
tainty, the divided counsels, and wavering purposes of
their opponents were the sure precursors of defeat.

His nomination was the signal to the leaders of the
slaveholders party for pressing upon the Democratic
Convention their most ultra views, that by the division
of the Democratic forces the victory of Mr. Lincoln
might be assured, and the pretext afforded them for
carrying into execution the plot against the liberties of
the country which they had been for so many years
maturing. That they would dare to carry their threat
of rebellion into execution, was not believed at the
North. If it had been, while it would probably have
scared away some votes from Mr. Lincoln, it would
have brought to him more votes yet from those who,
though following the Democratic banner, had not
learned to disregard the good old doctrine that the ma
jority must rule, and would have rushed to its rescue,
if they had believed that it was really threatened. The
vote which he received was that of a solid phalanx of
earnest men, who had resolved that Freedom should be
henceforth national, and Slavery should be and remain
as it was meant to be when the Constitution was
adopted. They formed a body of nearly 2,000,000
voters, who carried for Mr. Lincoln the electoral votes
of the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont,
Massachusetts, Khode Island, Connecticut, New York,
Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa,
Wisconsin, Minnesota, California.

That the consequences of that election have been


very different from what was anticipated by the great
body of the people is unquestionably true. Few men
of any party then understood the secret influences that
were conspiring against the peace and integrity of the
Union, and fewer still were willing to believe any con
siderable portion of the people capable of so gigantic a
crime as the attempted overthrow of the great Eepublic
of the world, either to revenge a party defeat or to per
petuate the slavery of the negro race. No man can
justly be held responsible even for the consequences of
his own action, any farther than, in the exercise of a
just and fair judgment, he can foresee them. In elect
ing Mr. Lincoln to the Presidency, the American peo
ple intended to erect a permanent bulwark against the
territorial extension of slavery, and the perpetuation of
its political power. If they had foreseen the madness
of its defenders, they might have shrunk from the
dreadful ordeal through which that madness has com
pelled the nation to pass, but in this, as in all the af
fairs of human life, ignorance of the future often proves
the basis and guarantee of its wise development : and
we believe that even now, with their experience, through
three of the stormiest and most terrible years this na
tion has ever seen, of the sagacity, integrity, and un
swerving patriotism with which President Lincoln Las
performed the duties of his high office, and with their
clearer perception of the ultimate issue of that great
contest between freedom and slavery, which the pro
gress of events had rendered inevitable, the people look
back with entire satisfaction upon the vote which, in
1860, made Mr. Lincoln President of the United States.






MARCH 4, 1861.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN was elected to be President, of the
United States on the sixth day of November 1860. The
preliminary canvass had not been marked by any very extra
ordinary features. Party lines were a good deal broken up,
and four presidential candidates were in the field ; but this
departure from the ordinary coarse of party contests had
occurred more than once in the previous political history of
the country. Mr. LINCOLN was put in nomination by the
Republican party, and represented in his life and opinions
the precise aim and object for which that party had been
formed. He was a native of a slaveholding State ; and while
he had been opposed to slavery, he had regarded it as a local
institution, the creature of local laws, with which the national
government of the United States had nothing whatever to do.
But in common with all observant public men, he had watched,
with distrust and apprehension, the advance of slavery as an ele
ment of political power towards ascendency in the government
of the nation, and had cordially co-operated with those who
thought it absolutely necessary for the future well-being of the
country that this tendency should be checked. He had,
therefore, opposed very strenuously the extension of slavery


into the territories, and bad asserted the right and the duty of
Congress to exclude it by positive legislation therefrom.

The Chicago Convention, which nominated Mr. LINCOLN",
adopted a platform of which this was the cardinal feature ;
but it also took good care to repel the imputation of its poli
tical opponents, and to remove the apprehensions of the South,
that the party proposed to interfere with slavery in the States
whose laws gave it support and protection. It expressly dis
avowed all authority and all wish for such interference, and
declared its purpose to protect the Southern States in the free
enjoyment of all their constitutional rights. The Democratic
Convention, originally assembled at Charleston, was disposed
to make Mr. DOUGLAS its candidate in opposition to Mr. LIN
COLN; but this purpose was thwarted by leading politicians
of the slaveholding States, who procured the nomination of
Mr. BRECKINRIDGE, with full knowledge of the fact that this
would divide the Democratic party, and in all probability
secure the election of Mr. LINCOLN. Mr. BKECKINRIDGE rep
resented the pro-slavery element of the Democratic party,
and asserted the duty of the national government, by a posi
tive exercise of its legislative and executive power, to protect
slavery in the territories, against any legislation either of
Congress or of the people of the territories themselves, which
should seek to impair in any degree the right, alleged to be
recognized in the Constitution, of property in slaves. Mr.
DOUGLAS supported the theory that the people of the terri
tories, acting through their territorial legislature, had the
same right to decide this question for themselves as they had
to decide any other; and he represented this principle in op
position to Mr. LINCOLN on the one hand, and Mr. BRECKIN
RIDGE on the other, in the Presidential canvass. JOHN BELL,
of Tennessee, was also made a candidate by the action mainly
of men who were dissatisfied with all the existing political
parties, and who were alarmed at the probable results of a


Presidential election which promised to be substantially sec
tional in its character. They put forth, therefore, no opinions
upon the leading points in controversy ; and went into the

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 3 of 46)