« PreviousContinue »
majority against the Douglas Democracy of two on joint ballot.
A United States Senator, to succeed Gen. Shields on the 4th of March, 1855, was to be chosen by this Legislature. For the first time in the history of Illinois, the election of an Anti-Democratic Senator was within the reach of possibility. Mr. Lincoln was the first choice of the great mass of the Opposition for this position. From his prominence, for a long time, in the old Whig party, it was but natural that a portion of the members having Democratic antecedents who had come into the new organization, should hesitate to give Mr. Lincoln their votes. This was especially true of the three Senators above named as holding over, they having been elected as regular Democrats. Under this state of things, it was manifest, after a few ballots, that, with the close vote in joint convention the election of a Democrat, not to be certainly relied on as an opponent of the Douglas policy, and at best uncommitted in regard to the new party organization, might be the result of adhering to Mr. Lincoln. He, accordingly, with the self-sacrificing disposition which had always characterized him, promptly appealed to his Whig friends to go over in a solid body to Mr. Trumbull, a man of Democratic antecedents, who could command the full vote of the Anti-Nebraska Democrats. By these earnest and disinterested efforts, the difficult, task was accomplished, great as was the sacrifice of personal feeling which it cost the devoted friends of Mr. Lincoln. On the part of himself and them, it involved the exercise of a degree of self-denial and magnanimity, as rare as it was noble. It demonstrated their honest attachment to the great cause for which old party lines had been abandoned, and their sincere purpose of thoroughly ignoring all differences founded on mere partisan prejudice. It cemented the union of these Anti-Nebraka elements, and consolidated the new organization into a permanent party.
The joint convention for electing a United States Senator met on the 8th day of February, 1855. On the first ballot, James Shields, then Senator, who had been iuduced by Douglas, against his own better judgment, to vote for the Kansas-Nebraska bill, received 41 votes, and three other Democrats had one vote each. Abraham Lincoln had 45 votes, Lyman Trumbull 5, Mr. Koerner 2, and there were three other scattering votes. On the seventh ballot, the Democratic vote was concentrated upon Gov. Matteson, with two exceptions, and he received also the votes of two AntiNebraska Democrats, making 44 in all. On the tenth ballot, Mr. Trumbull was elected, in the way just explained, receiving 51 votes, and Mr. Matteson 47. Every Whig vote but one was given to Mr. Trumbull.
Among the speeches delivered by Mr. Lincoln in this memorable campaign, which gave the Republicans an able Senator from Illinois, and which effectually accomplished the overthrow of the Democracy in that State, perhaps the ablest and most characteristic was the one delivered at Peoria, important portions of which were quoted by him in the canvass with Douglas, four years later. The following detached passages of this speech are specially memorable :
This declared indifference, but as I must think real zeal for the spread of slavery, I can not but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself; I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world; enables the enemies of free institutions with plausibility to taunt us as hypocrites; causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity; and especially because it forces so many really good men among ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty, criticising the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.
When the Southern people tell us they are no more responsible for the origin of slavery, than we are, I acknowledge the fact. When it is said that the institution exists, and that it is very
difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do, as to the existing institution.
When the white man governs himself, that is, self-government; but when he governs himself, and also governs another man, that is more than self-government that is despotism. If the negro is a man, why, then my ancient faith teaches me that “all men are created equal ;" and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of another.
Slave States are places for poor white people to remove from, not to remove to; new free States are the places for poor people to go to and better their condition. For this use, the nation needs these territories.
Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man's nature-opposition to it, in his love of justice.
In our greedy chase to make profit of the negro; let us beware lest we "cancel and tear to pieces” even the white man's charter of freedom.
Some men, mostly Whigs, who condemn the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, nevertheless hesitate to go for its restoration, lest they be thrown in company with the Abolitionist. Will they allow me, as an old Whig, to tell them, good-humoredly, that I think this is very silly? Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right, and part with him when he goes wrong.
Little by little, but steadily as man's march to the grave, we have been giving up the old for the new faith. Near eighty years ago we began by declaning that all men are created equal; but now from that beginning we have run down to the other declaration, that for some men to enslave others is a sacred right of self-government." These principles can not stand together. They are as opposite as God and Mammon; and whoever holds to one must despise the other.
In the course of my main argument, Judge Douglas interrupted me to say that the principle of the Nebraska bill was very old ; that it originated when God made man, and placed good and evil before him, allowing him to choose for himself, being responsible for the choice he should make. At the time, Í thought this was merely playful; and I answered it accordingly. But in his reply to me, he renewed it as a serious argument. In seriousness, then, the facts of this proposition are not true, as stated. God did not place good and evil before man, telling him to make his choice. On the contrary, He did tell him there was one tree, of the fruit of which he should not eat, upon pain of certain death. I should scarcely wish so strong à prohibition against slavery in Nebraska.
POLITICAL MOVEMENTS IN 1856 AND '57.
The Republican Party Organized. Their Platform adopted at Bloom
ington.—The Canvass of 1856.--Mr. Lincoln Sustains Fremont and Dayton.—His Active Labors on the Stump.—Col. Bissell Elected Governor of Illinois.--Mr. Buchanan Inaugurated.His Kansas Policy.—Mr. Douglas Committed to it in June, 1857.-John Calhoun his Special Friend.The Springfield Speech of Douglas.-Mr. Lincoln's Reply.
MR. LINCOLN took an active part in the formation of the Republican party as such. The State Convention of that organization, which met at Bloomington, on the 29th of May, 1856, sent delegates to the Philadelphia Convention of that year, held for the nomination of Presidential candidates. Among the resolutions of the Bloomington Convention were the following:
Resolved, That foregoing all former differences of opinion upon other questions, we pledge ourselves to unite in opposition to the present Administration, and to the party which upholds and supports it, and to use all honorable and constitutional means to wrest the Government from the unworthy hands which now control it, and to bring it back in its administration to the principles and practices of Washington, Jefferson, and their great and good compatriots of the Revolution.
Resolved, That we hold, in accordance with the opinions and practices of all the great statesmen of all parties, for the first sixty years of the administration of the Government, that, under the Constitution, Congress possesses full power to prohibit slavery in the Territories; and that while we will maintain all constitutional rights of the South, we also hold that justice, humanity, the principles of freedom as expressed in our Declaration of Independence, and our National Constitution, and the purity and perpetuity of our Government require that that power should be exerted, to prevent the extension of slavery into Territories heretofore free.
Resolved, That the repeal of the Missouri Compromise was unwise, unjust and injurious; in open and aggravated violation of the plighted faith of the States, and that the attempt of the present Administration to force slavery into Kansas against the known wishes of the legal voters of that Territory, is an arbitrary and tyrannous violation of the rights of the people to govern themselves, and that we will strive, by all constitutional means, to secure to Kansas and Nebraska the legal guarantee against slavery, of which they were deprived, at the cost of the violation of the plighted faith of the nation.
With this creed, and the Philadelphia platform, subsequently adopted, the Republicans of Illinois went into the canvass of 1856. Mr. Lincoln labored earnestly during the campaign, sustaining the nominations of Fremont and Dayton. In the State canvass, Col. Wm. H. Bissell received the united support of the Opposition for Governor, and was elected by a decisive majority. On the Presidential candidates, there being, unfortunately, two tickets in the field, the divided Opposition were unsuccessful, although Fremont, in spite of the heavy Fillmore vote, ran so closely upon Buchanan that the result was for a time in doubt, and only the nearly solid vote of “Egypt” decided the result in favor of the latter. The untiring exertions of Mr. Lincoln on the stump, in enlightening the people as to the real issues involved, did much toward securing this remarkable vote.
Mr. Buchanan came into power in March, 1857, and the hopes which had been entertained of a material change, under his administration, of the unjust and execrable policy hitherto pursued toward Kansas, were speedily dissipated. After some little show of resistance at first, he was soon found acting in accordance with the dictates of the extreme pro-slavery interest. A deep scheme was concocted, into the secrets of which even the Governor and Secretary of that territory were not admitted, for forcing Kansas into the Union as a slave State. This plot began to be suspected, and its existence more and more confirmed by the course of events, not long after Mr. Buchanan's inauguration. The thin veil of “bogus Popular Sovereignty," with which Douglas had tried to hide the naked deformity of the act under which Kansas and Nebraska were organized, was to be rent asunder. People were beginning to look with curiosity for the next evasion or artful afterthought by which he would attempt to escape the force of a public sentiment which was already rapidly bearing him down, before