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 4 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 4 of 42)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ages to come, will be prized as at once one of the most curious and one of
the most sacred relics in that vast museum of unique and priceless things.
This is a plain and -simple model of a steamboat, roughly fashioned in
wood, by the hand of Abraham Lincoln. It bears date in 1849, when
the inventor was known simply as a successful lawyer and rising politi
cian of Central Illinois. Neither his practice nor his politics took up so
much of his time, as to prevent him from giving much attention to con
trivances which he hoped might be of benefit to the world and of profit
to himself.

The design of this invention is suggestive of one phase of Abraham
Lincoln s early life, when he went up and down the Mississippi as a flat-
boatman, and became familiar with some of the dangers and inconve
niences attending the navigation of the Western rivers. It is an attempt
to make it an easy matter to transport vessels over shoals and snags and
sawyers. The main idea is that of an apparatus resembling a noisdes*
bellows, placed on each side of the hull of the craft, just below the water-
fine, and worked by an odd but not complicated system of ropes, valves,
and pulleys. When the keel of the vessel grates against the sand or
obstruction, these bellows are to be filled with air; and, thus buoyed up,
the ship is expected to float lightly and gayly over the shoal, which would
otherwise have proved a serious interruption to her voyage.

The model, which is about eighteen or twenty inches long, and has
the air of having been whittled with a knife out of a shingle and a cigar-
box, is built without any elaboration or ornament, or any extra apparatus
beyond that necessary to show the operation of buoying the steamer over
the obstructions. Herein it differs from very many of the models which
ihare with it the shelter of the immense halls of the Patent Office, and
which are fashioned with wonderful nicety and exquisite finish, as if
much of the labor and thought and affection of a lifetime had been de-


rated to their const motion. This is a model of a different kind; carved
as one might imagine a retired rail-splitter would whittle, strongly, but
not smoothly, and evidently made with a view solely to convey, by the
simplest possible means, to the minds of the patent authorities, an idea
of the purpose and plan of t.ho simple invention. The label on the
steamer s deck informs us that the patent was obtained ; tut we do not
learn that the navigation of the western rivers was revolutionized by tins
quaint conception. The modest little model has reposed here sixteen
years; and since it found its resting-place here on the shelf, the shrewd
inventor has found it his task to guide the ship of state over shoals mom
perilous, and obstructions more obstinate, than any prophet dreamed of
when Abraham Lincoln wrote his bold autograph on the prow of this
miniature steamer.

This curious episode, however, must not create the
impression that Mr. Lincoln had allowed his mind to be
entirely diverted from the observation of the important
political events then transpiring. He undoubtedly noted
carefully the development of those questions which sub
sequently absorbed BO large a share of attention, and
calculated accurately the influence which they would
have upon the relations of the two great political organ
izations. He had fought slavery often enough to know
what it was, and he was thoroughly conversant with the
animus of its supporters. It is not, therefore, at all likely
that he was taken by surprise when the Nebraska Bill
was introduced, and the proposition was made by Stephen
A. Douglas to repeal that very Missouri Compromise
which he had declared to be "a sacred thing, which no
ruthless hand would ever be reckless enough to disturb.

The Nebraska Bill was passed May 22, 1854, and the
event gave new and increased force to the popular feel
ing in favor of freedom, which the proposition to repeal
the Missouri Compromise had excited. Everywhere the
friends of freedom gathered themselves together and ral
lied round her banner, to meet the conflict which was
plainly now closely impending, and which had been forced
upon the people by- the grasping ambition of the slave
holders. The political campaign of that year in Illinois
was one of the severest ever known. It was intensified
by the fact that a United States Senator was to be choaeB


by the legislature then to be elected, to fill the place of
Shields, who had voted with Douglas in favor of the Ne
braska Bill.

Mr. Lincoln took a prominent part in this campaign.
Re met Judge Douglas before the people on two occa
sions, the onlj ones when the Judge would consent to
such a meeting. The first time was at the State Fair at
Springfield, on October 4th. This was afterwards con
sidered to have been the greatest event of the whole can
vass. Mr. Lincoln opened the discussion ; and in his
clear and eloquent, yet homely way, exposed the tergiver
sations of which his opponent had been guilty, and the
fallacy of his pretexts for his present course.

Mr. Douglas had always claimed to have voted for the
repeal of the Missouri Compromise because he sustained
the "great principle" of popular sovereignty, and de
sired that the inhabitants of Kansas and Nebraska should
govern themselves, as they were well able to do. The
fallacy of drawing from these premises the conclusion
that they therefore should have the right to establish
slavery there, was most clearly and conclusively exposed
by Mr. Lincoln, so that no one could thereafter be misled
by it, unless he was a willing dupe of pro-slavery

"My distinguished friend," said he, "says it is an
insult to the emigrants of Kansas and Nebraska to sup-
.pose that they are not able to govern themselves. We
must not slur over an argument of this kind because h
happens to tickle the ear. It must be met and answered.
I admit that the emigrant to Kansas and Nebraska is
competent to govern himself, but I deny his right to
govern any other person witJiout that person s consent.- "

The two opponents met again at Peoria. We believe
it is universally admitted that on both of these occasions
Mr. Lincoln had decidedly the advantage. The result of
the election was the defeat of the Democrats, and the
election of anti-Nebraska men to the legislature, to secure
the election of a United States Senator who would be true
to freedom, if they could be brought to unite upon a can-


didate. Mr. Lincoln was naturally the candidate of
those who were of Whig antecedents. Judge Trumbull
was as naturally the candidate of some who had really
come out from the Democratic party though they still
called themselves Free Democrats.

There was danger, of course, in such a posture of
affairs, and Mr. Lincoln, in that spirit of patriotism which
he has always shown, by his own personal exertions
secured the votes of his friends for Judge Trunibull, who
was accordingly chosen Senator. The charge was after j
wards made by the enemies of both, that there had been
in this matter a breach of faith on the part of Judge
Trunibull, and that Mr. Lincoln had the right to feel, and
did feel, aggrieved at the result. Mr. Lincoln himself,
however, expressly denied, in his speech at Charleston,
September 18, 1858, that there had been any such breach
of faith.





THE pressure of tlie slavery contest at last fully organ
ized the Republican party, which held its first convention
for the nomination of President and Yice-Presiderit at
Philadelphia, on June 17, 1856. John C. Fremont was
nominated for President, and William L. Dayton for
V ice-President. Mr. Lincoln s name was prominent be
fore the convention for the latter office, and on the infoi
mal ballot he stood next to Mr. Dayton, receiving 110
votes. Mr. Lincoln s name headed the Republican elec
toral ticket in Illinois, and he took an active part in the
canvass, but the Democrats carried the State, though
only by a plurality vote.

Meanwhile, Senator Douglas embraced every oppor
tunity to keep himself and his doctrines before the
people, but whichever waj he turned, he found his
vigilant antagonist constantly in his front. For twenty
years the two had been so invariably opposed to each
other in politics, that whenever Mr. Douglas made a
speech, the people instinctively anticipated a reply from
Mr. Lincoln ; and there was a special Providence in thus
opposing to the wily, deceptive sophistries of the former
the clear, incisive common sense of the latter, which the
multitude could not avoid comprehending. Early ia
Jun* , 1857, Senator Douglas made his famous speech in
Springfield, which was universally accepted as a declara
tion that he meant to sustain all the acts of the Lecomp-
ton Convention, y pro-slavery constitution


should "be formed, the responsibility for the adoption of
which he meant to fasten upon the Republican party,
since it was anticipated that the members of that organ
ization in the Territory would refrain from voting. He
further indorsed the Dred Scott decision in this same
speech, and, in discussing the Utah rebellion, proposed to
^nd the difficulty by annulling the act establishing thy
Territory. Mr. Lincoln promptly took issue with him
apon all these points, in a speech also delivered at
Springfield, twr weeks later. He declared himself in
favor of "coercing" the people of Utah into obedience,
and while he "did not admit or deny that the Judge s
method of coercing them might not be as good as any,"
he showed how Mr. Douglas abandoned his principles,
and "his much-vaunted doctrine of self-government for
the Territories," by suggesting such a plan. He then
defended the course of action which the Republicans in
Kansas had adopted, and ridiculed mercilessly the myth
ical "Free State Democrats," of whom so much had beea
said. Next he discussed the Dred Scott decision, and
showed that, in denouncing it, he had not gone so far as
Mr, Douglas himself had done in applauding General
Jackson for disregarding the decision of the same tribunal
upon the constitutionality of the National Bank. Qu jting
from the Dred Scott decision some expressions in whit.h
Chief-Justice Taney intimated that the public estimate of
the black man was more favorable then than it was in the
days of the revolution, Mr. Lincoln replied to the impli
cation in the following forcible manner :

This assumption is a mistake. In some trifling particulars the condi
tion of that race has been ameliorated; but, as a vhole, in this country,
tho change between then and now is decidedly the other way; and their
ultimate destiny ha* never appeared so hopeless as in the last three or
four yegrs. In two of the five States New Jersey and North Carolina
that then gave the free negro the right of voting, the right has sincetbeen
taken away ; and in the third New York it has been greatly abridged,
while it has not been extended, so far as I know, to a single additional
State, though the number of the States has more than doubled. In those
<!ays. ft 1 understand, masters could, at their own pleasure, emancipate
; hut, since then, such legal restraint* have beeu made upon


emancipation as to amount almost to prohibition. In those days, legis
latures held the unquestioned power to abolish slavery in their respective
States ; but now it is becoming quite fashionable for State constitutions
to withhold that power from the legislatures. In those days, by com
mon consent, the spread of the black man s bondage to the new countries
was prohibited; but now, Congress decides that it will r.ot continue the
prohibition, and the Supreme Court decides that it could not, if it would.
In those days, our Declaration of Independence was held sacred by all,
? r.d thought to include all ; but no ?r, to aid in making the bondage of the
negro univerr^.1 and eternal, it is assailed, sneered at, construed, hawked
at, and torn, till, if its framers could rise from tlieir graves, they could
not at all recognize it. All the powers of earth set n rapidly combining
against him. Mammon is after him ; ambition follows, philosophy fof
lows, and the theology of the day is fast joining the cry. They have hiir>
in his prison-house ; they have searched his person, and left no prying
instrument with him. One after another they have closed the heavy
iron doors upon him ; and now they have him, as it were, bolted in with
a lock of a hundred keys, which can never be unlocked without the con
currence of every key; the keys in the hands of a hundred different men,
and they scattered to a hundred different and distant places; and they
stand musing as to what invention, in all the dominions of mind and
matter, can be produced to make the impossibility of his escape mora
complete than it is.

It is grossly incorrect to say or assume that the public estimate of
the negro is more favorable now than it was at the origin of the Govern

No one would have been more surprised than Mr. Lin
coln himself, could the fact have been revealed to him,
when uttering these words, that through him as an hum
ble instrument in the hands of Prov* A ?nce, and in the
brief space of eight years, a vast din: .,^ r "mid be brought
about in the status of th?t cJCoo. "^_r-^e sufferings and
wrongs he thus eloquer.wly bp 1 " ^,

In this same spe^ ii 7 *^. -V^sc-la turned from the course
of his argument ff*~ c* #: ,u>*>2C, to demolish, in his charac
teristic maaD" y & r j**;-&urd charge which his opponent
had denies ^a Vimself by repeating, that, in laboring to
seen?" ,UP ^io his rights, the Eepublicans desired to
1 tj e \ _L\ on a complete political and social equality with
I pelves. He said :


4ud J ulgo Dong as evidently is basing his chief hope upon the chances o?
his being able to appropriate the benciit of this disgust to himself. If ho
can, by much drumming and repeating, fasten the odium of that idea
upon his adversaries, he thinks he can struggle through the storm. He
therefore clings to this hope, as a drowning man to the last plank. Be
makes an occasion for lugging it in from the opposition to the Dred Scotv.
decision. He finds the Republicans insisting that the Declaration of
Inpependence includes ALL men, black as well as white, and forthwith he
boldly denies that it includes negroes at all, and proceeds to argue gravely
that all who contend that it does, do so only because they want to vote,
eat arid sleep, and marry with negroes 1 He will have it that they cannot
be consistent else. Now, I protest against the counterfeit logic which
concludes that, because I do not want a black woman for a slave, 1 must,
necessarily want her for a wife. I need not have her for either. I can
just leave her alone. In some respects, she certainly is not my equal;
but in her natural right to eat the bread she earns with her own hands,
without asking leave of any one else, she is my equal, and the equal of
eJl others.

We have thus presented the leading points in these
two speeches, because the discussion was the prelude to
the famous Senatorial contest of 1858, which gave Mr.
Jancoln a national reputation, not only as an able debater
and eloquent orator, but as a sagacious and wise politi
cian wise enough to stand inflexibly by principles of
the soundness of which he was himself satisfied, even
against the judgment of earnest friends.

On the 4th of March, 1857, Mr. Buchanan had taken
his seat in the Presidential chair. The struggle between
freedom and slavery for the possession of Kansas was at
its height. A few days after his inauguration, the Su
preme Court rendered the Dred Scott decision, which was
thought by the friends of slavery to insure their victory,
by its holding the Missouri Compromise to be unconstitu
tional, because the Constitution itself carried slavery all
over the Territories of the United States. In spite of this
decision, the friends of freedom in Kansas maintained
their ground. The slaveholders, however, pushed for
ward their schemes, and in November, 1857, their Con
stitutional Convention, held at Lecompton, adopted the
Lecompton Constitution. The trick by which they sub
mitted to the popular vote only a schedule on the slavery


queciion, instead of the whole Constitution, compelling
every voter, however lie might vote upon this schedule,
to vote for their Constitution, which fixed slavery upon
the State just as surely, whether the schedule was adopted
or not, will be well remembered, as well as the feeling
which so unjust a device excited throughout the North.
Judge Douglas had sustained the Bred Scott decision, but
he could not sustain this attempt to force upon the people
of Kansas a Constitution against their will. He took
ground openly and boldly against it denouncing it in
the Senate and elsewhere as an outrage upon the people
of Kansas, and a violation of every just Democratic prin
ciple. He declared that he did not care whether the
people voted the Slavery clause " up or down," but he
thought they ought to have the chance to vote for or
against the Constitution itself.

The Administration had made the measure their own,
and this opposition of Douglas at once excited against
him the active hostility of the slaveholders and theii
friends, with whom he had hitherto acted in concert.
The bill was finally passed through Congress on April
30th, 1858, under what is known as the English Bill,
whereby the Constitution was to be submitted to the
votes of the people of Kansas, with the offer of heavy
bribes to them, in the way of donations of land, etc., if
they would accept it ; and the people, in spite of the
bribes, voted it down by an immense majority.

Judge Douglas s term was on the eve of expiring, and
he came home to Illinois after the adjournment of Con
gress, to attend in person to the political campaign, upon
the result of which was to depend his re-election to tho

His course on the Lecompton bill had made an open
breach between him and the Administration, and he had
rendered such good service to the Kepublicans, in their
battle with that monstrous infamy, that there were not
wanting many among them who were inclined to think it
would be wise not to oppose his re-election.

But the Republicans of Illinois thought otherwise


They knew that lie was not in any sense a Republican.
They knew that on the cardinal principle of the Repub
lican party, opposition to the spread of Slavery into the
Territories, he was not with them ; for he had declared
in the most positive way that he "did not care whether
Slavery was voted down or up." And they therefore
determined, in opposition to the views of some influential
Republicans, at home as well as in other States, to fight
the battle through against him, with all the energy that
they could bring to the work. And to this end, on the
1 7th of June, 1858, at their State Convention at Spring
field, they nominated Mr. Lincoln as their candidate for
the Senate of the United States.

The circumstances we have briefly sketched invested
the campaign about to open with national importance.
The people of the whole Union saw that the struggle then
initiated in Illinois must ultimately extend to other States,
and they knew that they would soon be compelled them
selves to pass upon the questions there to be decided.
JNTone doubted that the principle of * Popular Sovereignty
would be thoroughly examined, for the reputation of the
two combatants as men of extraordinary ability was es
tablished. It was the universal expectation that each
aspirant for senatorial honors would display peculia*
caution in opening the struggle, in order to prevent thf
other from gaining any undue advantage ; but Mr. Lin
coin scorned every appearance of subterfuge or evasion.
His opinions had become sharply defined and clearl}
crystallized during the contests through which he had
passed in the years preceding, and in his speech to the
Convention which nominated him, signifying his accept
ance of the honor conferred upon him, he expressed him
self so unreservedly and frankly that even Lis supporters
were for the moment startled.

In a speech delivered at Chicago, July 9, the first
after Mr. Lincoln s nomination, Senator Douglas alluded
to this addre^b as having been " well prepared and care
fully written." In reply, Mr. Lincoln said, " Gentlemen,
Douglas informed you that this speech 01 inm


was probably carefully prepared, I admit that it was,
1 am not a master of language. I have not a fine educa
tion ; I am not capable of entering into a disquisition
upon dialectics, as I believe you call it. 7 In the address
thus alluded to, Mr. Lincoln struck the key-note of the
campaign. Its exposition of his political creed, and his
statement of the important points at issue, is so succinct
and complete that we reproduce it here. It is as fol
lows :



first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better
judge what to do, and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth year
since a policy was initiated with the avowed object, and confident prom-
we, of putting an cud to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that
policy that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augment
ed. In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached
and passed. U A house divided against itself cannot stand." I believe
this Government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do
not expect the Union to be dissolved, I do not expect the house to fall,
but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing,
or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the furthel
spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief
that it is in the course of ultimate extinction ; or its advocates will push
it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as
new, North as well as South.

Have we no tendency to the latter condition?

Let any one who doubts carefully contemplate that now almost com
plete legal combination piece of machinery, so to speak compounded
of the Nebraska doctrine and the Dred Scott decision. Let him consider
not only what work the machinery is adapted to do, and how well adapt
ed ; but also let him study the history of its construction, and trace, if he
can, or rather fail, if he can, to trace, the evidences of design and concert
of action among its chief architects from the beginning.

The new year of 1854 found slavery excluded fr< </i more than half the
States by State Constitutions, and from most of the national territory by
Congressional prohibition. Four days later commenced the struggle
which ended in repealing that Congressional prohibition. This opened
all the national territory to sjavery, and was the first point gained.

But so far Congress only had acted ; and an indorsement by the people,
real or apparent, was indispensable, to save the point already gained and
give chance for more.

This necessity had not been overlooked, but had been provided for, us
well &a might be, in the notable argument of u squatter sovereignty, 1


otherwise called " sacred right of self-government ;" which lattor phrase,
though expressive of the only rightful basis of any government, was so
perverted in this attempted use of it as to amount to just this: That if
any one man choose to enslave another, no third man shall he allowed to
object. That argument was incorporated into the Nebraska bill itself, in
the language which follows: "It being the true intent and meaning of
this act not to legislate slavery into any Territory or State, nor to exclude
it therefrom; but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and
regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the
Constitution of the United States." Then opened the roar of loose decla
mation in favor of "squatter sovereignty," and "sacred right of self-gov-
rnment." u But," said opposition members, "let us amend the bill go

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 4 of 42)