Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) online

. (page 3 of 42)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 42)
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was feared with the liveliest emotions of anxiety, was "Uncle Abe," as
he was lovingly called by us all. Sometimes he might happen to be a
day or two late, and then, as the Bloomington stage came in at sundown,
the Bench and the Bar, jurors and the general citizens, would gather in
crowds at the hotel where he always put up, to give him a welcome if he
should happily arrive, and to experience the keenest feelings of disappoint
ment if he should not. If he arrived, as he alighted and stretched out
both his long arms to shake hands with those nearest to him and with
those who approached his homely face handsome in its broad and sun
shiny smile, nis voice touching in its kindly and cheerful accents every
one in his presence felt lighter in heart and became joyous. He brought
light with him. He loved his fellow-men with all the strength of his
great nature, and those who came in contact with him could not help
reciprocating the love. His tenderness of the feelings of others wai
t f sensitiveness in the extreme.

For several years after settling in Springfield, Mr. Lin
coln remained a bachelor, residing in the family of Hon.
William Butler, who was, a few years since, elected State
Treasurer. On November 4th, 1842, he married Miss
Mary Todd, daughter of Hon. Robert S. Todd, of Lex
ington, Kentucky. She now mourns the violent and
untimely death of her lamented husband.

Mr. Lincoln s love for Henry Clay, which was enkin
died by the life of that statesman, which he read when a
boy, grew with his years, and when he reached manhood
it had deepened into enthusiastic admiration. In 1844 he
itumped Dliaoig for him, and even extended, his kbors to


Indiana. None felt more keenly than he the unexpected
defeat of his favorite. In 1846 Mr. Lincoln was induced
to accept the nomination for Congress, and in the district
which had, two years before, given Mr. Clay, for Presi
dent, a majority of nine hundred and fourteen votes, he
astonished himself and his friends by rolling up a major
ity of fifteen hundred and eleven. To add to the signifi
cance of his triumph, he was the only Whig representative
from Illinois, which had then seven members in that
body. This Congress had before it subjects of great
importance and interest to the country. The Mexican
War was in progress, and Congress had to deal with
grave questions arising out of it, besides determining and
providing the means by which it was to be carried on.
The irrepressible Slavery Question was there also, in
many of its Protean forms, in questions on the right of
petition, in questions as to the District of Columbia, in
many questions as to the Territories.

Mr. Lincoln was charged by his enemies in later years,
when political hostility was hunting sharply for material
out of which to make capital against him, with lack of
patriotism, alleging that he voted against the war. The
charge was sharply and clearly made by Judge Douglas,
at the first of their joint discussions in the Senatorial
contest of 1858. In his speech at Ottawa, he said of Mr.
Lincoln, that " while in Congress he distinguished him
self by his opposition to the Mexican war, taking the
si le of the common enemy against liis own country,
d-nd when he returned home he found that the indigna
tion of the people followed him everywhere."

]N~o better answer can be given to this charge than that
which Mr. Lincoln himself made, in his reply to this
speech. He says: "1 was an old Whig, and whenever
the Democratic party tried to get me to vote that the war
had been righteously begun by the President, I would
not do it. But whenever they *sked for any money or
land-warrants, or any thing to pay the soldiers there,
during all that time I gave the same vote that Judge
Douglas did. You can think as you please as to whether


that was consistent. Such is the truth, and the Judge
has a right to make all he can out of it. But when he,
by a general charge, conveys the idea that I withheld
supplies from the soldiers who were fighting in the Mex
ican war, or did any thing else to hinder the soldiers, he
is, to say the least, grossly and altogether mistaken, as a
consultation of the records will prove to him."

We need no more thorough refutation of this imputa
tion upon his patriotism than is embodied in this clear
and distinct denial. It required no little sagacity, at that
time, to draw a clear line of demarcation between sup
porting the country while engaged in war, and sustaining
the war itself, which Mr. Lincoln, in common with the
great body of the party with which he was connected,
regarded as utterly unjust. The Democratic party made
vigorous use of the charge everywhere. The whole
foundation of it, doubtless, was the fact which Mr. Liii-
coln states, that, whenever the Democrats tried to get
him u to vote that the war had been righteously begun,"
he would not do it. He showed, in fact, on this point,
the same clearness and directness, the same keen eye fo*
the important point in a controversy, and the same tena
city in holding it fast, and thwarting his opponent s
utmost efforts to obscure it and cover it up, to draw
attention to other points and raise false issues, which
were the marked characteristics of his great controversy
with Judge Douglas at a subsequent period of their poli
tical history. It is always popular, because it always
seems patriotic, to stand by the country when engaged in
v.var and the people are not invariably disposed to judge
leniently of efforts to prove their country in the wrong as
against any foreign power. In this instance, Mr Lincoln
saw that the strength of the position of the Administration
before the people, in reference to the beginning of the war ;
was in the point, which they lost no opportunity of reiter
ating, viz. : that Mexico had shed the blood of our citizens
on our own soil. This position he believed to be false,
and he accordingly attacked it in a series of resolutions
requesting the President to give the Bmise informatioD


on that point ; which President Polk would have found
as difficult to dodge as Douglas found it to dodge tlu
questions which Mr. Lincoln proposed to him.

As a part of the history of Mr. Lincoln s Congressional
career, we give these resolutions, omitting the preamble,
which simply reproduces the language employed by
President Polk in his message, to convey the impression
that the Mexicans were the aggressors, and that the war
was undertaken to repel invasion, and to avenge the shed
ding of the blood of our fellow- citizens on our own soil
The quaint phraseology of the resolutions stamps them
as the production of Mr. Lincoln s pen. They read as
follows :

Besolved by the Hou*e of Representatives, That the President of the
United States be respectfully requested to inform this House

1st. Whether the spot on which the blood of our citizens was shed, a
in his messages declared, was or was not within the territory of Spain, nt
least after the treaty of 1819, until the Mexican revolution.

2d. Whether that spot is or is not within the territory which was
wrested from Spain hy the revolutionary Government of Mexico.

3d. Whether that pui is or is not within a settlement of people, wliirli
settlement has existed ever since long before the Texas revolution, and
until its inhabitants fled before the approach of the United States army.

4th. Whether that settlement is or is not isolated from any and all
other settlements by the Gulf and the Rio Grande on the south and west,
and by wide uninhabited regions on the north and east.

5th. Whether the people of that settlement, or a majority of them, or

any of them, have ever submitted themselves to the government or laws

of Texas or of the United States, by consent or by compulsion, either by

accepting office, or voting at elections, or paying tax, or serving on juries,

^or having process served upon them, or in any other way.

Gth. Whether the people of that settlement did or did not flee from tho
approach of the United States army, leaving unprotected their homes anu
their growing crops, before the blood was shed, as in the messages stated ;
and whether the first blood so shed, was or was not shed within the
enclosure of one of the people who had thus fled from it.

7th. Whether our citizens, whose blood was shed, as in his messages
declared, were or were not, at that time, armed officers and soldiers, sent
into that settlement by the military order of the President, through the
Secretary of War.

8th. Whether the military force of the United States was or was not
o ent into that settlement after General Taylor had rnora than one?


intimated to the War Department that, in his opinion, no auoh movement
wa necessary to the defence or protection oi Texus.

These resolutions, which Mr. Polk would have found
it very inconvenient to answer, were laid over, under the
rule, and were never acted upon, although Air. Lincoln
commented on them in a speech, made January 12, 1848,
which, by the way, was his first formal appearance in the
House. In this speech lie discussed, in his homely but
forcible manner, the absurdities and contradictions of Mr.
Polk s message, and exposed its weaknesses.

In these times, when questions of so much greater mag
nitude and importance have overshadowed those which
occupied or agitated the public mind twenty years ago,
it seems strange that political opponents could even
then have compelled Mr. Lincoln to defend his course in
Congress, as having been prompted by patriotic motives.
The nation which has been plunged into mourning by his
sudden and violent death, would now regard as gratuitous
and puerile any argument, the purpose of which should
be to prove that Mr. Lincoln s action upon this Mexican
question was governed by the same inflexible ideas of
honor and right which ruled him so unwaveringly
throughout his entire public career, and which have
since made his memory sacred.

A Whig from conviction, Mr. Lincoln acted consistently
with his party upon all questions of public concern. On
June 20, 1848, after the nomination of General Cass as the
Democratic candidate for the Presidency, Mr. Lincolr
made an able speech in support of the line of policy tht
Whigs had pursued regarding internal improvements.
He ridiculed mercilessly the position taken by General
Cass upon this important question, and, in concluding his
remarks, thus stated his own views, while he dealt a
severe blow at the same pseudo chivalric spirit of the
South, which he has since been chiefly instrumental in
humbling to the dust. He said :

How to do something, and still riot to do too much, is the desideratum
I<et each contribute hiss mite in the way of suggestion. The late Silaa


"Wright, in a letter to the Chicago convention, contributed his, which wa
worth something ; and I now contribute mine, which may he worth
nothing. At all events, it will mislead nobody, and therefore will do no
harm. I would not borrow money. I am against an overwhelming,
crushing system. Suppose that, at each session, Congress shall first
determine how much money can, for that year, be spared for improve
ments ; then apportion that sum to the most important objects. So
tar all is easy; but how shall we determine which are the most im
portant? On this question comes the collision of interests. / shall be
slow to acknowledge that your harbor or your river is more important
than mine, and vice versa. To clear this difficulty, let us have that same
statistical information which the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Vinton] sug
gested at the beginning of this session. In that information we shall have
a stern, unbending basis of facts a basis in nowise subject to whim,
caprice, or local interest. The pre-limited amount of means will save us
from doing too much, and the statistics will save us from doing what we
do in wrong places. Adopt and adhere to this course, and, it seems to
me, the difficulty is cleared.

One of the gentlemen from South Carolina [Mr. Rhett] very much de
precates these statistics. He particularly objects, as I understand him, to
counting all the pigs and chickens in the land. I do not perceive much
force in the objection. It is true, that if every thing be enumerated, a
portion of such statistics may not be very useful to this object. Such
products of the country as are to be consumed where they are produced,
need no roads and rivers, no means of transportation, and have no very
proper connection with this subject. The surplus, that which is produced
in one place to be consumed in another; the capacity of each locality for
producing a greater surplus ; the natural means of transportation, and
their susceptibility of improvement; the hindrances, delays, and losses of
life and property during transportation, and the causes of each, would be
among the most valuable statistics in this connection. From these it
would readily appear where a given amount of expenditure would do the
most good. These statistics might be equally accessible, as they would
le equally useful, to both the Nation and the States. In this way, and by
these means, let the Nation take hold of the larger works, and the States
the smaller ones; and thus, working in a meeting direction, discreetly,
but steadily and firmly, what is made unequal in one place may be equal
ized in another, extravagance avoided, and the whole country put on that
career of prosperity which shall correspond with its extent of territory,
its natural resources, and the intelligence and enterprise of its people.

The nomination of General Taylor as the Whig candi
date for the Pivcddency, "by the Convention of that pa.rty
at Philadelphia, to which Mr. Lincoln was a delegate,
fairly opened the campaign, and Congress prolozjgil its


session until August 14th, as the members, Senators and
Representatives alike, insisted, each for himself, upon
expressing his views, and defining his position in full, for
the benefit of his constituents. The only spooch of any
length made by Mr. Lincoln, subsequent to that from
which \ve have already quoted, was delivered July 27th,
when he defended, with characteristic shrewdness and
ability, the position General Taylor had taken regarding
the exercise of the veto power. This speech is, perhaps,
more strongly marked by Mr. Lincoln s peculiarities than
any other of his Congressional utterances. The keen
sarcasm with which h^ exposed the inconsistencies of
both General Cass and Mr. Van Buren, is not surpassed
in any of his subsequent efforts.

Upon the adjournment of Congress, the members en
tered energetically into the popular canvass, Mr. Lincoln
first making a visit to New England, where he delivered
a number of effective campaign speeches in support of
General Taylor. The journals of the day note his pres
ence at the Massachusetts State Convention during hia
brief visit to New England, and speak in terms of the
highest praise of an address which he delivered at New
Bedford. He felt conscious, however, that he could labor
more effectively among his Western friends, and accord
ingly spent most of his time during the canvass in that
section of the country. Although he failed to carry his
own State for his favorite candidate, his disappointment
was entirely forgotten in General Taylor s election.

In December, when the Thirtieth Congress reassembled
for its second session, Mr. Lincoln took his seat ; but the
exhaustion consequent upon the exciting political cam
paign just closed, reacted upon Congress, and precluded
the possibility of any exciting discussions. Important
action was taken, however, upon the slavery question
in some of its phases. It is needless to state, that du
ring his entire Congressional service Mr. Lincoln steadily
uiid persistently cast his vote upon the side of freedom.
]!*- repeatedly recorded himself against laying on the
tt;>S<\ without consideration, Trillions in favor of th<*


Abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, and
against the slave-trade.

On the question of abolishing slavery in the District,
Le tools rather a prominent part. A Mr. Gott had in
troduced a resolution directing the proper committee
to introduce a "bill abolishing the slave -trade in the
District. On January 16 (1849), Mr. Lincoln moved the
following amendment, instructing the Committee to intro
duce a bill not for the abolition of the slave-trade, but of
slavery, within the District :

Renohed, That the Committee on the District of Columbia be instructed
10 report a bill in substance ai folio ws:

SEO. 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives nf
i ie United States, in Congress assembled, That no person now within the
I istrict of Columbia, nor now owned by any person or persons now resi-
dant within it, nor hereafter bora within it, shall ever be held in slavery
vrithin said District.

SEC. 2. That no person now within said District, or now owned by any
person or persons now resident within the same, or hereafter born within
i*,, shall ever be held in slavery without the limits of said District : Pro
vided, That the officers of the Government of the United States, being
citizens of the slaveholding States, coming into said District on public
business, and remaining only so long as may be reasonably necessary for
that object, may be attended into and out of said District, and while there,
by the necessary servants of themselves and their families, without their
right to hold such servants in service being impaired.

SEC. 3. That all children born of slave mothers within said District,
on or after the 1st day of January, in the year of our Lord 1850, shall be
free ; but shall be reasonably supported and educated by the respective
owners of their mothers, or by their heirs or representatives, and shall
serve reasonable service as apprentices to such owners, heirs, or represen
tatives, until they respectively arrive at the age of years, when

they shall be entirely free : And the municipal authorities of Washington
and Georgetown, within their respective jurisdictional limits, are hereby
empowered and required to make all suitable and necessary provision for
enforcing obedience to this section, on the part of both masters and ap

SEC. 4. That all persons now within this District, lawfully held as
laves, or now owned by any person or persons now resident within said
District, shall remain such at the will of their respective owners, their
heirs, or legal representatives : Provided, that such OAvner, or his legal
representatives, maj at miy time receive from the Treasury of the United


Slates the full value of his or her slave, of the class in this section men*
tfamHl, upon which such slave shall be forthwith and forever free : And pro
vided further, That the President of the United States, the Secretary of
State, and the Secretary of the Treasury, shall be a board for determining
the value such slaves as their owners desire to emancipate under thia
section, and whose duty it shall be to hold a session for the purpose on the
first Monday of each calendar month, to receive all applications, and, or*
satisfactory evidence in each case that the person presented for valuation
is a slave, and of the class in the section mentioned, and is owned by the
applicant, shall value such slave at his or her full cash value, and give to
the applicant an order on the Treasury for the amount, and also to such
slave a certificate of freedom.

SEC. 5. That the municipal authorities of Washington and George
town, within their respective jurisdictional limits, are hereby empowered
and required to provide active and efficient means to arrest and deliver
up to their owners all fugitive slaves escaping into said District.

SEO. 6. That the elective officers within said District of Columbia are
hereby empowered and required to open polls, at all the usual places of
holding elections, on the first Monday of April next, and receive the vote
of every free white citizen above the age of twenty-one years, having
resided within said District for the period of one year or more next prece
ding the time of such voting for or against this act, to proceed in taking said
votes, in- all respects not herein specified, as at elections under the muni
cipal laws, and with as little delay as possible to transmit correct state
ments of the votes so cast to the President of the United States ; and it
shall be the duty of the President to count such votes immediately, and
if a majority of them be found to be for this act, to forthwith issue his pro
clamation giving notice of the fact ; and this act shall only be in full force
and effect on and after the day of such proclamation.

SEO. 7. That involvntary servitude for the punishment of crime,
whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall in no wise be pro
hibited by this act.

SEO. 8. That for all purposes of this act, the jurisdictional limits of
Washington are extended to all parts of the District of Columbia not
Included within the present limits of Georgetown.

A "bill was afterwards reported by the committee for
bidding the introduction of slaves into the District for
sale or hire. This bill also Mr. Lincoln supported, but
in vain. The time for the success of such measures, in
volving to an extent attacks upon slavery, had not yet

The question of the Territories also came up in many
ways. Th* Wilmot Proviso had made its first appearance


in the previous session, in the August before, but it was re
peatedly before this Congress also, when efforts were made
to apply it to the territory which we procured from Mex
ico, and to Oregon. On all occasions when it was before
the House it was supported by Mr. Lincoln, and he stated
during his contest with Judge Douglas, that he had voted
for it, "in one way and another, about forty times."
He thus showed hinself, in 1847, to be the same friend of
freedom for the Territories which he was afterwards, du
ring the heat of the Kansas struggle.

Another instance in which the slavery question was
before the House, was in the famous Pacheco case. This
was a bill to reimburse the heirs of Antonio Pacheco for
the value of a slave who was hired by a United States
officer in Florida, but ran away and joined the Seminoles,
and, being taken in arms with them, was sent out of
Florida with them, when they were transported to the
West. The bill was reported to the House by the Com
mittee on Military Affairs. This committee was com
posed of nine. Five of these were slaveholders, and
these made the majority report. The others, not being
slaveholders, reported against the bill. The ground
taken by the majority was, that slaves were regarded as
property by the Constitution, and when taken for public
service should be paid for as property. The principle
involved in the bill, therefore, was the same one which
the slaveholders had struggled in so many ways to main
tain. As they sought afterwards to have it established
by a decision of the Supreme Court, so now they tried
to have it recognized by Congress, and Mr. Lincoln op
posed it there, as heartily as he afterwards withstood
it when it took the more covert, but no less dangerous
shape of a judicial dictum.

Mr. Lincoln s congressional career terminated at the
close of this session (March 4, 1849), and, for reasons
satisfactory to himself, he declined a renomination,
although his re-election, had he consented to become a
candidate, was morally certain. In this same year,, how
ever, he was the Whig candidate in Illinois for United


States Senator, "but without success the Democrats hay
ing the control of the State, which they retained until the
conflict arising out of the Nebraska bill, in 1854.

Nothing could more forcibly illustrate the complete
rest and relaxation from political cares and anxieties
which Mr. Lincoln enjoyed during these few years, than
the feet that he found time, while practising his pro
fession, to indulge the exercise of his inventive faculties.
A correspondent of the Boston Advertiser, writing from
Washington, thus states the form in which the mechan
ical genius of the ex -Congressman and future President
found expression :

Occupying an ordinary and commonplace position in one of the show
cases in the large hall of the Patent Office, is one little model which, in

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 3 of 42)