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Title: Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2 (of 2) - The True Story of a Great Life
Author: Herndon, William H., Weik, Jesse W.
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2 (of 2) - The True Story of a Great Life" ***


The True Story of a Great Life

By William H. Herndon and Jesse W. Weik

With An Introduction By Horace White

In Two Volumes Vol. II




A LAW office is a dull, dry place so far as pleasurable or interesting
incidents are concerned. If one is in search of stories of fraud,
deceit, cruelty, broken promises, blasted homes, there is no better
place to learn them than a law office. But to the majority of persons
these painful recitals are anything but attractive, and it is well
perhaps that it should be so. In the office, as in the court room,
Lincoln, when discussing any point, was never arbitrary or insinuating.
He was deferential, cool, patient, and respectful. When he reached the
office, about nine o'clock in the morning, the first thing he did was
to pick up a newspaper, spread himself out on an old sofa, one leg on a
chair, and read aloud, much to my discomfort. Singularly enough Lincoln
never read any other way but aloud. This habit used to annoy me almost
beyond the point of endurance. I once asked him why he did so. This was
his explanation: "When I read aloud two senses catch the idea: first,
I see what I read; second, I hear it, and therefore I can remember
it better." He never studied law books unless a case was on hand for
consideration--never followed up the decisions of the supreme courts, as
other lawyers did. It seemed as if he depended for his effectiveness in
managing a lawsuit entirely on the stimulus and inspiration of the final
hour. He paid but little attention to the fees and money matters of the
firm--usually leaving all such to me. He never entered an item in the
account book. If any one paid money to him which belonged to the firm,
on arriving at the office he divided it with me. If I was not there,
he would wrap up my share in a piece of paper and place it in my
drawer--marking it with a pencil, "Case of Roe vs. Doe.--Herndon's

On many topics he was not a good conversationalist, because he felt that
he was not learned enough. Neither was he a good listener. Putting it a
little strongly, he was often not even polite. If present with others,
or participating in a conversation, he was rather abrupt, and in
his anxiety to say something apt or to illustrate the subject under
discussion, would burst in with a story. In our office I have known him
to consume the whole forenoon relating stories. If a man came to see him
for the purpose of finding out something which he did not care to let
him know and at the same time did not want to refuse him, he was very
adroit. In such cases Lincoln would do most of the talking, swinging
around what he suspected was the vital point, but never nearing it,
interlarding his answers with a seemingly endless supply of stories and
jokes. The interview being both interesting and pleasant, the man would
depart in good humor, believing he had accomplished his mission. After
he had walked away a few squares and had cooled off, the question
would come up, "Well, what did I find out?" Blowing away the froth of
Lincoln's humorous narratives he would find nothing substantial left.

"As he entered the trial," relates one of his colleagues at the bar,*
"where most lawyers would object he would say he 'reckoned' it would be
fair to let this in, or that; and sometimes, when his adversary could
not quite prove what Lincoln knew to be the truth, he 'reckoned' it
would be fair to admit the truth to be so-and-so. When he did object
to the court, and when he heard his objections answered, he would
often say, 'Well, I reckon I must be wrong.' Now, about the time he had
practised this three-fourths through the case, if his adversary didn't
understand him, he would wake up in a few minutes learning that he had
feared the Greeks too late, and find himself beaten. He was wise as a
serpent in the trial of a cause, but I have had too many scares from his
blows to certify that he was harmless as a dove. When the whole thing
was unravelled, the adversary would begin to see that what he was so
blandly giving away was simply what he couldn't get and keep. By giving
away six points and carrying the seventh he carried his case, and the
whole case hanging on the seventh, he traded away everything which would
give him the least aid in carrying that. Any man who took Lincoln for a
simple-minded man would very soon wake up with his back in a ditch."

     * Leonard Swett.

Lincoln's restless ambition found its gratification only in the field
of politics. He used the law merely as a stepping-stone to what he
considered a more attractive condition in the political world. In the
allurements held out by the latter he seemed to be happy. Nothing in
Lincoln's life has provoked more discussion than the question of his
ability as a lawyer. I feel warranted in saying that he was at the same
time a very great and a very insignificant lawyer. Judge David Davis, in
his eulogy on Lincoln at Indianapolis, delivered at the meeting of the
bar there in May, 1865, said this: "In all the elements that constituted
a lawyer he had few equals. He was great at _nisi prius_ and before an
appellate tribunal. He seized the strong points of a cause and presented
them with clearness and great compactness. His mind was logical and
direct, and he did not indulge in extraneous discussion. Generalities
and platitudes had no charm for him. An unfailing vein of humor never
deserted him, and he was able to claim the attention of court and jury
when the cause was most uninteresting by the appropriateness of his
anecdotes. His power of comparison was large, and he rarely failed in
a legal discussion to use that mode of reasoning. The framework of his
mental and moral being was honesty, and a wrong case was poorly defended
by him. The ability which some eminent lawyers possess of explaining
away the bad points of a cause by ingenious sophistry was denied him. In
order to bring into full activity his great powers it was necessary that
he should be convinced of the right and justice of the matter which he
advocated. When so convinced, whether the cause was great or small he
was usually successful." *

     * He never took advantage of a man's low character to
     prejudice the jury. Mr. Lincoln thought his duty to his
     client extended to what was honorable and high-minded, just
     and noble--nothing further. Hence the meanest man at the bar
     always paid great deference and respect to him.--David
     Davis, Sept. 10, 1866, MS.

This statement of Judge Davis in general is correct, but in some
particulars is faulty. It was intended as a eulogy on Lincoln, and as
such would not admit of as many limitations and modifications as
if spoken under other circumstances. In 1866 Judge Davis said in a
statement made to me in his home at Bloomington, which I still have,
"Mr. Lincoln had no managing faculty nor organizing power; hence a child
could conform to the simple and technical rules, the means and the modes
of getting at justice, better than he. The law has its own rules, and
a student could get at them or keep with them better than Lincoln.
Sometimes he was forced to study these if he could not get the rubbish
of a case removed. But all the way through his lack of method and
organizing ability was clearly apparent." The idea that Mr. Lincoln was
a great lawyer in the higher courts and a good _nisi prius_ lawyer, and
yet that a child or student could manage a case in court better than he,
seems strangely inconsistent, but the facts of his life as a lawyer will
reconcile this and other apparent contradictions.

I was not only associated with Mr. Lincoln in Springfield, but was
frequently on the circuit with him, but of course not so much as Judge
Davis, who held the court, and whom Lincoln followed around on the
circuit for at least six months out of the year. I easily realized that
Lincoln was strikingly deficient in the technical rules of the law.
Although he was constantly reminding young legal aspirants to study and
"work, work," yet I doubt if he ever read a single elementary law book
through in his life. In fact, I may truthfully say, I never knew him to
read through a law book of any kind. Practically, he knew nothing of the
rules of evidence, of pleading, or practice, as laid down in the
text-books, and seemed to care nothing about them. He had a keen sense of
justice, and struggled for it, throwing aside forms, methods, and rules,
until it appeared pure as a ray of light flashing through a fog-bank. He
was not a general reader in any field of knowledge, but when he had
occasion to learn or investigate any subject he was thorough and
indefatigable in his search. He not only went to the root of a question,
but dug up the root, and separated and analyzed every fibre of it. He
was in every respect a case lawyer, never cramming himself on any
question till he had a case in which the question was involved. He
thought slowly and acted slowly; he must needs have time to analyze all
the facts in a case and wind them into a connected story. I have seen
him lose cases of the plainest justice, which the most inexperienced
member of the bar would have gained without effort. Two things were
essential to his success in managing a case. One was time; the other a
feeling of confidence in the justice of the cause he represented. He
used to say, "If I can free this case from technicalities and get it
properly swung to the jury, I'll win it." But if either of these
essentials were lacking, he was the weakest man at the bar. He was
greatest in my opinion as a lawyer in the Supreme Court of Illinois.
There the cases were never hurried. The attorneys generally prepared
their cases in the form of briefs, and the movements of the court and
counsel were so slow that no one need be caught by surprise. I was with
Lincoln once and listened to an oral argument by him in which he
rehearsed an extended history of the law. It was a carefully prepared
and masterly discourse, but, as I thought, entirely useless. After he
was through and we were walking home I asked him why he went so far back
in the history of the law. I presumed the court knew enough history.
"That's where you're mistaken," was his instant rejoinder. "I dared not
trust the case on the presumption that the court knows everything--in
fact I argued it on the presumption that the court didn't know
anything," a statement which, when one reviews the decision of our
appellate courts, is not so extravagant as one would at first suppose.

I used to grow restless at Lincoln's slow movements and speeches in
court. "Speak with more vim," I would frequently say, "and arouse the
jury--talk faster and keep them awake." In answer to such a suggestion
he one day made use of this illustration: "Give me your little
pen-knife, with its short blade, and hand me that old jack-knife, lying
on the table." Opening the blade of the pen-knife he said: "You see,
this blade at the point travels rapidly, but only through a small
portion of space till it stops; while the long blade of the jack-knife
moves no faster but through a much greater space than the small one.
Just so with the long, labored movements of my mind. I may not emit
ideas as rapidly as others, because I am compelled by nature to speak
slowly, but when I do throw off a thought it seems to me, though it
comes with some effort, it has force enough to cut its own way and
travel a greater distance." This was said to me when we were alone in
our office simply for illustration. It was not said boastingly.

As a specimen of Lincoln's method of reasoning I insert here the brief
or notes of an argument used by him in a lawsuit as late as 1858. I copy
from the original:

"Legislation and adjudication must follow and conform to the progress of

"The progress of society now begins to produce cases of the transfer
for debts of the entire property of railroad corporations; and to enable
transferees to use and enjoy the transferred property legislation and
adjudication begin to be necessary.

"Shall this class of legislation just now beginning with us be general
or special?

"Section Ten of our Constitution requires that it should be general, if
possible, (Read the Section.)

"Special legislation always trenches upon the judicial department; and
in so far violates Section Two of the Constitution. (Read it.)

"Just reasoning--policy--is in favor of general legislation--else
the legislature will be loaded down with the investigation of smaller
cases--a work which the courts ought to perform, and can perform much
more perfectly. How can the Legislature rightly decide the facts between
P. & B. and S. C. & Co.

"It is said that under a general law, whenever a R. R. Co. gets tired
of its debts, it may transfer fraudulently to get rid of them. So they
may--so may individuals; and which--the Legislature or the courts--is
best suited to try the question of fraud in either case?

"It is said, if a purchaser have acquired legal rights, let him not be
robbed of them, but if he needs legislation let him submit to just terms
to obtain it.

"Let him, say we, have general law in advance (guarded in every possible
way against fraud), so that, when he acquires a legal right, he will
have no occasion to wait for additional legislation; and if he has
practiced fraud let the courts so decide."

David Davis said this of Lincoln: "When in a lawsuit he believed
his client was oppressed,--as in the Wright case,--he was hurtful
in denunciation. When he attacked meanness, fraud, or vice, he was
powerful, merciless in his castigation." The Wright case referred to was
a suit brought by Lincoln and myself to compel a pension agent to
refund a portion of a fee which he had withheld from the widow of a
revolutionary soldier. The entire pension was $400, of which sum the
agent had retained one-half. The pensioner, an old woman crippled and
bent with age, came hobbling into the office and told her story. It
stirred Lincoln up, and he walked over to the agent's office and made
a demand for a return of the money, but without success. Then suit
was brought. The day before the trial I hunted up for Lincoln, at his
request, a history of the Revolutionary War, of which he read a good
portion. He told me to remain during the trial until I had heard his
address to the jury. "For," said he, "I am going to skin Wright, and get
that money back." The only witness we introduced was the old lady, who
through her tears told her story. In his speech to the jury, Lincoln
recounted the causes leading to the outbreak of the Revolutionary
struggle, and then drew a vivid picture of the hardships of Valley
Forge, describing with minuteness the men, barefooted and with bleeding
feet, creeping over the ice. As he reached that point in his speech
wherein he narrated the hardened action of the defendant in fleecing
the old woman of her pension his eyes flashed, and throwing aside his
handkerchief, which he held in his right hand, he fairly launched
into him. His speech for the next five or ten minutes justified the
declaration of Davis, that he was "hurtful in denunciation and merciless
in castigation." There was no rule of court to restrain him in his
argument, and I never, either on the stump or on other occasions in
court, saw him so wrought up. Before he closed, he drew an ideal picture
of the plaintiff's husband, the deceased soldier, parting with his wife
at the threshold of their home, and kissing their little babe in
the cradle, as he started for the war. "Time rolls by," he said, in
conclusion; "the heroes of '76 have passed away and are encamped on the
other shore. The soldier has gone to rest, and now, crippled, blinded,
and broken, his widow comes to you and to me, gentlemen of the jury,
to right her wrongs. She was not always thus. She was once a beautiful
young woman. Her step was as elastic, her face as fair, and her voice as
sweet as any that rang in the mountains of old Virginia. But now she
is poor and defenceless. Out here on the prairies of Illinois, many
hundreds of miles away from the scenes of her childhood, she appeals
to us, who enjoy the privileges achieved for us by the patriots of the
Revolution, for our sympathetic aid and manly protection. All I ask is,
shall we befriend her?" The speech made the desired impression on the
jury. Half of them were in tears, while the defendant sat in the
court room, drawn up and writhing under the fire of Lincoln's fierce
invective. The jury returned a verdict in our favor for every cent we
demanded. Lincoln was so much interested in the old lady that he became
her surety for costs, paid her way home, and her hotel bill while she
was in Springfield. When the judgment was paid we remitted the proceeds
to her and made no charge for our services. Lincoln's notes for
the argument were unique: "No contract.--Not professional
services.--Unreasonable charge.--Money retained by Deft not
given by Pl'ff.--Revolutionary War.--Describe Valley Forge
privations.--Ice--Soldier's bleeding feet.--Pl'ffs husband.--Soldier
leaving home for army.--Skin Def t.--Close." It must not be inferred
from this that Lincoln was in the habit of slopping over. He never
hunted up acts of injustice, but if they came to him he was easily
enlisted. In 1855 he was attending court at the town of Clinton,
Illinois. Fifteen ladies from a neighboring village in the county had
been indicted for trespass. Their offence consisted in sweeping down on
one Tanner, the keeper of a saloon in the village, and knocking in the
heads of his barrels. Lincoln was not employed in the case, but sat
watching the trial as it proceeded. In defending the ladies their
attorney seemed to evince a little want of tact, and this prompted one
of the former to invite Mr. Lincoln to add a few words to the jury, if
he thought he could aid their cause. He was too gallant to refuse and,
their attorney having consented, he made use of the following argument:
"In this case I would change the order of indictment and have it read
The State vs. Mr. Whiskey, instead of The State vs. The Ladies; and
touching these there are three laws: The law of self-protection; the law
of the land, or statute law; and the moral law, or law of God. First,
the law of self-protection is a law of necessity, as evinced by our
forefathers in casting the tea overboard and asserting their right to
the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. In this case it is the only
defense the ladies have, for Tanner neither feared God nor regarded man.
Second, the law of the land, or statute law, and Tanner is recreant to
both. Third, the moral law, or law of God, and this is probably a law
for the violation of which the jury can fix no punishment." Lincoln
gave some of his own observations on the ruinous effects of whiskey in
society, and demanded its early suppression. After he had concluded, the
Court, without awaiting the return of the jury, dismissed the ladies,
saying: "Ladies, go home. I will require no bond of you, and if any fine
is ever wanted of you, we will let you know."

After Lincoln's death a fellow-lawyer paid this tribute to him:* "He
was wonderfully kind, careful, and just. He had an immense stock
of common-sense, and he had faith enough in it to trust it in every
emergency. Mr. Lincoln's love of justice and fair-play was his
predominating trait. I have often listened to him when I thought he
would certainly state his case out of court. It was not in his nature to
assume or attempt to bolster up a false position.** He would abandon his
case first.

     * Joseph Gillespie, MS., Letter, Oct. 8, 1886.

     ** "Early in 1858 at Danville, Ill., I met Lincoln, Swett,
     and others who had returned from court in an adjoining
     county, and were discussing the various features of a murder
     trial in which Lincoln had made a vigorous fight for the
     prosecution and Swett had defended. The plea of the defense
     was insanity. On inquiring the name of the defendant I was
     surprised to learn that it was my old friend Isaac Wyant,
     formerly of Indiana. I told them that I had been Wyant's
     counsel frequently and had defended him from almost every
     charge in the calendar of crimes; and that he was a weak
     brother and could be led into almost everything. At once
     Lincoln began to manifest great interest in Wyant's history,
     and had to be told all about him. The next day on the way to
     the court house he told me he had been greatly troubled over
     what I related about Wyant; that his sleep had been
     disturbed by the fear that he had been too bitter and
     unrelenting in his prosecution of him. "I acted," he said,
     "on the theory that he was 'possuming insanity, and now I
     fear I have been too severe and that the poor fellow may be
     insane after all. If he cannot realize the wrong of his
     crime, then I was wrong in aiding to punish him.'"--Hon.
     Joseph E. McDonald, August, 1888. Statement to J. W. W.

He did so in the case of Buckmaster for the use of Dedham vs. Beems and
Arthur, in our Supreme Court, in which I happened to be opposed to him.
Another gentleman, less fastidious, took Mr. Lincoln's place and gained
the case."

A widow who owned a piece of valuable land employed Lincoln and myself
to examine the title to the property, with the view of ascertaining
whether certain alleged tax liens were just or not. In tracing back the
title we were not satisfied with the description of the ground in one
of the deeds of conveyance. Lincoln, to settle the matter, took his
surveying instruments and surveyed the ground himself. The result proved
that Charles Matheney, a former grantor, had sold the land at so much
per acre, but that in describing it he had made an error and conveyed
more land than he received pay for. This land descended to our client,
and Lincoln after a careful survey and calculation, decided that she
ought to pay to Matheney's heirs the sum which he had shown was due them
by reason of the erroneous conveyance. To this she entered strenuous
objections, but when assured that unless she consented to this act of
plain justice we would drop the case, she finally, though with great
reluctance, consented. She paid the required amount, and this we divided
up into smaller sums proportioned to the number of heirs. Lincoln
himself distributed these to the heirs, obtaining a receipt from each

     * "Dear Herndon:

     "One morning, not long before Lincoln's nomination--a year
     perhaps--I was in your office and heard the following! Mr.
     Lincoln, seated at the baize-covered table in the center of
     the office, listened attentively to a man who talked
     earnestly and in a low tone. After being thus engaged for
     some time Lincoln at length broke in, and I shall never
     forget his reply. 'Yes,' he said, 'we can doubtless gain
     your case for you; we can set a whole neighborhood at
     loggerheads; we can distress a widowed mother and her six
     fatherless children and thereby get for you six hundred
     dollars to which you seem to have a legal claim, but which
     rightfully belongs, it appears to me, as much to the woman
     and her children as it does to you. You must remember that
     somethings legally right are not morally right. We shall not
     take your case, but will give you a little advice for which
     we will charge you nothing. You seem to be a sprightly,
     energetic man; we would advise you to try your hand at
     making six hundred dollars in some other way.'



     From undated MS., about 1866.

While Mr. Lincoln was no financier and had no propensity to acquire
property,--no avarice of the get,--yet he had the capacity of retention,
or the avarice of the keep. He never speculated in lands or anything
else. In the days of land offices and "choice lots in a growing town" he
had many opportunities to make safe ventures promising good returns, but
he never availed himself of them. His brother lawyers were making good
investments and lucky turns, some of them, Davis, for example, were
rapidly becoming wealthy; but Lincoln cared nothing for speculation; in
fact there was no ventursome spirit in him. His habits were very simple.
He was not fastidious as to food or dress. His hat was brown, faded, and
the nap usually worn or rubbed off. He wore a short cloak and sometimes
a shawl. His coat and vest hung loosely on his gaunt frame, and his
trousers were invariably too short. On the circuit he carried in one
hand a faded green umbrella, with "A. Lincoln" in large white cotton or
muslin letters sewed on the inside. The knob was gone from the handle,
and when closed a piece of cord was usually tied around it in the middle
to keep it from flying open. In the other hand he carried a literal
carpet-bag, in which were stored the few papers to be used in court, and
underclothing enough to last till his return to Springfield. He slept in
a long, coarse, yellow flannel shirt, which reached half-way between
his knees and ankles. It probably was not made to fit his bony figure as
completely as Beau Brummers shirt, and hence we can somewhat appreciate
the sensation of a young lawyer who, on seeing him thus arrayed for the
first time, observed afterwards that, "He was the ungodliest figure I
ever saw."

"He never complained of the food, bed, or lodgings. If every other
fellow grumbled at the bill-of-fare which greeted us at many of the
dingy taverns," says David Davis, "Lincoln said nothing." He was once
presiding as judge in the absence of Davis, and the case before him was
an action brought by a merchant against the father of a minor son for
a suit of clothes sold to the son without parental authority. The real
question was whether the clothes were necessary, and suited to the
condition of the son's life. The father was a wealthy farmer; the bill
for the clothing was twenty-eight dollars. I happened in court just
as Lincoln was rendering his decision. He ruled against the plea of
necessity. "I have rarely in my life," said he, "worn a suit of clothes
costing twenty-eight dollars."

     * H. C. Whitney, MS., letter, Nov. 13, 1865.

"Several of us lawyers," remarked one of his colleagues, "in the eastern
end of the circuit annoyed Lincoln once while he was holding court for
Davis by attempting to defend against a note to which there were many
makers. We had no legal, but a good moral defense, but what we wanted
most of all was to stave it off till the next term of court by one
expedient or another. We bothered "the court" about it till late on
Saturday, the day of adjournment. He adjourned for supper with nothing
left but this case to dispose of. After supper he heard our twaddle for
nearly an hour, and then made this odd entry: 'L. D. Chaddon _vs_. J.
D. Beasley _et al._ April Term, 1856. Champaign County Court. Plea in
abatement by B. Z. Green, a defendant not served, filed Saturday at
11 o'clock A. M., April 24, 1856, stricken from the files by order
of court. Demurrer to declaration, if there ever was one, overruled.
Defendants who are served now, at 8 o'clock, P. M., of the last day of
the term, ask to plead to the merits, which is denied by the court on
the ground that the offer comes too late, and therefore, as by _nil
dicet_, judgment is rendered for Pl'ff. Clerk assess damages. A.
Lincoln, Judge _pro tem_."' The lawyer who reads this singular entry
will appreciate its oddity if no one else does. After making it one of
the lawyers, on recovering his astonishment, ventured to enquire,
"Well, Lincoln, how can we get this case up again?" Lincoln eyed him
quizzically a moment, and then answered, "You have all been so
'mighty smart about this case you can find out how to take it up again

     * "During my first attendance at court in Menard County,"
     relates a lawyer who travelled the circuit with Lincoln,
     "some thirty young men had been indicted for playing cards,
     and Lincoln and I were employed in their defense. The
     prosecuting attorney, in framing the indictments,
     alternately charged the defendants with playing a certain
     game of cards called 'seven-up,' and in the next bill
     charged them with playing cards at a certain game called
     'old sledge.' Four defendants were indicted in each bill.
     The prosecutor, being entirely unacquainted with games at
     cards, did not know the fact that both 'seven-up' and 'old
     sledge' were one and the same. Upon the trial on the bills
     describing the game as 'seven-up' our witnesses would swear
     that the game played was 'old sledge,' and vice versa on the
     bills alleging the latter. The result was an acquittal in
     every case under the instructions of the Court. The
     prosecutor never found out the dodge until the trials were
     over, and immense fun and rejoicing were indulged in at the

The same gentleman who furnishes this last incident, and who was
afterward a trusted friend of Mr. Lincoln, Henry C. Whitney, has
described most happily the delights of a life on the circuit. A bit of
it, referring to Lincoln, I apprehend, cannot be deemed out of place
here. "In October, 1854, Abraham Lincoln," he relates, "drove into
our town (Urbana) to attend court. He had the appearance of a rough,
intelligent farmer, and his rude, homemade buggy and raw-boned horse
enforced this belief. I had met him for the first time in June of the
same year. David Davis and Leonard Swett had just preceded him. The next
morning he started North, on the Illinois Central Railroad, and as he
went in an old omnibus he played on a boy's harp all the way to the
depot. I used to attend the Danville court, and while there, usually
roomed with Lincoln and Davis. We stopped at McCormick's hotel,
an old-fashioned frame country tavern. Jurors, counsel, prisoners,
everybody ate at a long table. The judge, Lincoln, and I had the
ladies' parlor fitted up with two beds. Lincoln, Swett, McWilliams,
of Bloomington, Voorhees, of Covington, Ind., O. L. Davis, Drake, Ward
Lamon, Lawrence, Beckwith, and O. F. Harmon, of Danville, Whiteman, of
Iroquois County, and Chandler, of Williamsport, Ind., constituted the
bar. Lincoln, Davis, Swett, I, and others who came from the western part
of the state would drive from Urbana. The distance was thirty-six miles.
We sang and exchanged stories all the way. We had no hesitation in
stopping at a farm-house and ordering them to kill and cook a chicken
for dinner. By dark we reached Danville. Lamon would have whiskey in his
office for the drinking ones, and those who indulged in petty gambling
would get by themselves and play till late in the night. Lincoln, Davis,
and a few local wits would spend the evening in Davis's room, talking
politics, wisdom, and fun. Lincoln and Swett were the great lawyers, and
Lincoln always wanted Swett in jury cases. We who stopped at the hotel
would all breakfast together and frequently go out into the woods and
hold court. We were of more consequence than a court and bar is now. The
feelings were those of great fraternity in the bar, and if we desired
to restrict our circle it was no trouble for Davis to freeze out any
disagreeable persons. Lincoln was fond of going all by himself to any
little show or concert. I have known him to slip away and spend the
entire evening at a little magic lantern show intended for children.
A travelling concert company, calling themselves the 'Newhall Family,'
were sure of drawing Lincoln. One of their number, Mrs. Hillis, a good
singer, he used to tell us was the only woman who ever seemed to exhibit
any liking for him. I attended a negro-minstrel show in Chicago, where
we heard Dixie sung. It was entirely new, and pleased him greatly. In
court he was irrepressible and apparently inexhaustible in his fund
of stories. Where in the world a man who had travelled so little and
struggled amid the restrictions of such limited surroundings could
gather up such apt and unique yarns we never could guess. Davis
appreciated Lincoln's talent in this direction, and was always ready to
stop business to hear one of his stories. Lincoln was very bashful when
in the presence of ladies. I remember once we were invited to take tea
at a friend's house, and while in the parlor I was called to the front
gate to see a client. When I returned, Lincoln, who had undertaken to
entertain the ladies, was twisting and squirming in his chair, and as
bashful as a schoolboy. Everywhere, though we met a hard crowd at every
court, and though things were free and easy, we were treated with great
respect." Probably the most important lawsuit Lincoln and I conducted
was one in which we defended the Illinois Central Railroad in an action
brought by McLean County, Illinois, in August, 1853, to recover taxes
alleged to be due the county from the road. The Legislature had granted
the road immunity from taxation, and this was a case intended to test
the constitutionality of the law. The road sent a retainer fee of $250.
In the lower court the case was decided in favor of the railroad. An
appeal to the Supreme Court followed, and there it was argued twice, and
finally decided in our favor. This last decision was rendered some time
in 1855. Mr. Lincoln soon went to Chicago and presented our bill for
legal services. We only asked for $2000 more. The official to whom
he was referred,--supposed to have been the superintendent George B.
McClellan who afterwards became the eminent general,--looking at the
bill expressed great surprise. "Why, sir," he exclaimed, "this is as
much as Daniel Webster himself would have charged. We cannot allow such
a claim." Stung by the rebuff, Lincoln withdrew the bill, and started
for home. On the way he stopped at Bloomington. There he met Grant
Goodrich, Archibald Williams, Norman B. Judd, O. H. Browning, and other
attorneys, who, on learning of his modest charge for such valuable
services rendered the railroad, induced him to increase the demand to
$5000, and to bring suit for that sum. This was done at once. On the
trial six lawyers certified that the bill was reasonable, and judgment
for that sum went by default. The judgment was promptly paid.

Lincoln gave me my half, and much as we deprecated the avarice of great
corporations, we both thanked the Lord for letting the Illinois Central
Railroad fall into our hands.

In the summer of 1857 Lincoln was employed by Mr. Manny, of Rockford,
Ill., to defend him in an action brought by McCormick,* who was one
of the inventors of the reaping machine, for infringement of patent.
Lincoln had been recommended to Manny by E. B. Washburne, then a member
of Congress from northern Illinois. The case was to be tried before
Judge McLean at Cincinnati, in the Circuit Court of the United States.
The counsel for McCormick was Reverdy Johnson. Edwin M. Stanton and
George Harding, of Philadelphia, were associated on the other side with
Lincoln. The latter came to Cincinnati a few days before the argument
took place, and stopped at the house of a friend. "The case was one of
great importance pecuniarily," relates a lawyer** in Cincinnati, who
was a member of the bar at the time, "and in the law questions involved.
Reverdy Johnson represented the plaintiff. Mr. Lincoln had prepared
himself with the greatest care; his ambition was up to speak in the case
and to measure swords with the renowned lawyer from Baltimore. It was
understood between his client and himself before his coming that Mr.
Harding, of Philadelphia, was to be associated with him in the case, and
was to make the 'mechanical argument.'

     * The case, McCormick vs. Manny, is reported in 6 McLean's
     Rep., P. 539.

     ** W. M. Dickson.

After reaching Cincinnati, Mr. Lincoln was a little surprised and
annoyed to learn that his client had also associated with him Mr.
Edwin M. Stanton, of Pittsburg, and a lawyer of our own bar, the reason
assigned being that the importance of the case required a man of the
experience and power of Mr. Stanton to meet Mr. Johnson. The Cincinnati
lawyer was appointed for his 'local influence.' These reasons did not
remove the slight conveyed in the employment without consultation with
him of this additional counsel. He keenly felt it, but acquiesced. The
trial of the case came on; the counsel for defense met each morning for
consultation. On one of these occasions one of the counsel moved
that only two of them should speak in the case. This matter was also
acquiesced in. It had always been understood that Mr. Harding was to
speak to explain the mechanism of the reapers. So this motion excluded
either Mr. Lincoln or Mr. Stanton,--which? By the custom of the bar, as
between counsel of equal standing, and in the absence of any action of
the client, the original counsel speaks. By this rule Mr. Lincoln had
precedence. Mr. Stanton suggested to Mr. Lincoln to make the speech. Mr.
Lincoln answered, 'No, you speak.' Mr. Stanton replied, 'I will,' and
taking up his hat, said he would go and make preparation. Mr. Lincoln
acquiesced in this, but was greatly grieved and mortified; he took but
little more interest in the case, though remaining until the conclusion
of the trial. He seemed to be greatly depressed, and gave evidence of
that tendency to melancholy which so marked his character. His parting
on leaving the city cannot be forgotten. Cordially' shaking the hand of
his hostess he said: 'You have made my stay here most agreeable, and I
am a thousand times obliged to you; but in reply to your request for
me to come again, I must say to you I never expect to be in Cincinnati
again. I have nothing against the city, but things have so happened
here as to make it undesirable for me ever to return.' Lincoln felt that
Stanton had not only been very discourteous to him, but had purposely
ignored him in the case, and that he had received rather rude, if not
unkind, treatment from all hands. Stanton, in his brusque and abrupt
way, it is said, described him as a 'long, lank creature from Illinois,
wearing a dirty linen duster for a coat, on the back of which the
perspiration had splotched wide stains that resembled a map of the
continent. Mr. Lincoln," adds Mr. Dickson, "remained in Cincinnati about
a week, moving freely around, yet not twenty men knew him personally or
knew he was here; not a hundred would have known who he was had his
name been given to them. He came with the fond hope of making fame in a
forensic contest with Reverdy Johnson. He was pushed aside, humiliated
and mortified. He attached to the innocent city the displeasure that
filled his bosom, and shook its dust from his feet." On his return to
Springfield he was somewhat reticent regarding the trial, and, contrary
to his custom, communicated to his associates at the bar but few of its
incidents. He told me that he had been "roughly handled by that man
Stanton"; that he overheard the latter from an adjoining room, while the
door was slightly ajar, referring to Lincoln, inquire of another, "Where
did that long-armed creature come from, and what can he expect to do in
this case?" During the trial Lincoln formed a poor opinion of Judge
McLean. He characterized him as an "old granny," with considerable vigor
of mind, but no perception at all. "If you were to point your finger at
him," he put it, "and a darning needle at the same time he never would
know which was the sharpest."

As Lincoln grew into public favor and achieved such marked success in
the profession, half the bar of Springfield began to be envious of his
growing popularity. I believe there is less jealousy and bitter feeling
among lawyers than professional men of any other class; but it should
be borne in mind that in that early day a portion of the bar in
every county seat, if not a majority of the lawyers everywhere, were
politicians. Stuart frequently differed from Lincoln on political
questions, and was full of envy. Likewise those who coincided with
Lincoln in his political views were disturbed in the same way. Even
Logan was not wholly free from the degrading passion. But in this
respect Lincoln suffered no more than other great characters who
preceded him in the world's history.

That which Lincoln's adversaries in a lawsuit feared most of all was
his apparent disregard of custom or professional propriety in managing a
case before a jury. He brushed aside all rules, and very often resorted
to some strange and strategic performance which invariably broke his
opponent down or exercised some peculiar influence over the jury. Hence
the other side in a case were in constant fear of one of his dramatic
strokes, or trembled lest he should "ring in" some ingeniously planned
interruption not on the programme. In a case where Judge Logan--always
earnest and grave--opposed him, Lincoln created no little merriment
by his reference to Logan's style of dress. He carried the surprise
in store for the latter, till he reached his turn before the jury.
Addressing them, he said: "Gentlemen, you must be careful and not permit
yourselves to be overcome by the eloquence of counsel for the defense.
Judge Logan, I know, is an effective lawyer. I have met him too often to
doubt that; but shrewd and careful though he be, still he is sometimes
wrong. Since this trial has begun I have discovered that, with all his
caution and fastidiousness, he hasn't knowledge enough to put his shirt
on right." Logan turned red as crimson, but sure enough, Lincoln was
correct, for the former had donned a new shirt, and by mistake had drawn
it over his head with the pleated bosom behind. The general laugh which
followed destroyed the effect of Logan's eloquence over the jury--the
very point at which Lincoln aimed.

The trial of William Armstrong* for the murder of James P. Metzger,
in May, 1858, at Beardstown, Illinois, in which Lincoln secured the
acquittal of the defendant, was one of the gratifying triumphs in his
career as a lawyer.

     * This incident in Lincoln's career has been most happily
     utilized by Dr. Edward Eggleston in his story "The
     Graysons," recently published in the Century Magazine.

Lincoln's defense, wherein he floored the principal prosecuting witness,
who had testified positively to seeing the fatal blow struck in the
moonlight, by showing from an almanac that the moon had set, was
not more convincing than his eloquent and irresistible appeal in his
client's favor. The latter's mother, old Hannah Armstrong, the friend
of his youth, had solicited him to defend her son. "He told the jury,"
relates the prosecuting attorney, "of his once being a poor, friendless
boy; that Armstrong's parents took him into their house, fed and clothed
him, and gave him a home. There were tears in his eyes as he spoke. The
sight of his tall, quivering frame, and the particulars of the story he
so pathetically told, moved the jury to tears also, and they forgot the
guilt of the defendant in their admiration of his advocate. It was the
most touching scene I ever witnessed."*

     * J. Henry Shaw, letter, Aug. 22, 1866, MS.

Before passing it may be well to listen to the humble tribute of old
Hannah Armstrong, the defendant's mother: "Lincoln had said to
me, 'Hannah, your son will be cleared before sundown.' I left the
court-room, and they came and told me that my son was cleared and a free
man. I went up to the court-house. The jury shook hands with me; so did
the judge and Lincoln; tears streamed down Lincoln's eyes.... After
the trial I asked him what his fee would be; told him I was poor. 'Why,
Hannah,' he said, 'I sha'n't charge you a cent, and anything else I
can do for you, will do it willingly and without charge.' He afterwards
wrote to me about a piece of land which certain men were trying to get
from me, and said: 'Hannah, they can't get your land. Let them try it in
the Circuit Court, and then you appeal it; bring it to the Supreme Court
and I and Herndon will attend to it for nothing.'" *

The last suit of any importance in which Lincoln was personally engaged,
was known as the Johnson sand-bar case. It involved the title to certain
lands, the accretion on the shores of Lake Michigan, in or near Chicago.
It was tried in the United States Circuit Court at Chicago in April
and May, 1860. During the trial, the Court--Judge Drummond--and all
the counsel on both sides dined at the residence of Isaac N. Arnold,
afterwards a member of Congress. "Douglas and Lincoln," relates Mr.
Arnold, "were at the time both candidates for the nomination for
President. There were active and ardent political friends of each at the
table, and when the sentiment was proposed, 'May Illinois furnish the
next President,' it was drank with enthusiasm by the friends of both
Lincoln and Douglas."**

     * From statement, Nov. 24, 1865.

     ** Arnold's "Lincoln," p. 90.

I could fill this volume with reminiscences of Lincoln's career as a
lawyer, but lest the reader should tire of what must savor in many cases
of monotony it is best to move on. I have made this portion of the book
rather full; but as Lincoln's individuality and peculiarities were more
marked in the law office and court-room than anywhere else it will play
its part in making up the picture of the man. Enough has been told to
show how, in the face of adverse fortune and the lack of early training,
and by force of his indomitable will and self-confidence, he gained such
ascendency among the lawyers of Illinois. The reader is enabled thereby
to understand the philosophy of his growth.

But now another field is preparing to claim him. There will soon be
great need for his clear reason, masterly mind and heroic devotion to
principle. The distant mutterings of an approaching contest are
driving scattered factions into a union of sentiment and action. As
the phalanxes of warriors are preparing for action, amid the rattle
of forensic musketry, Lincoln, their courageous leader, equipped for
battle, springs into view.


WHILE Lincoln in a certain sense was buried in the law from the time his
career in Congress closed till, to use his own words, "the repeal of the
Missouri Compromise aroused him again," yet he was a careful student of
his times and kept abreast of the many and varied movements in politics.
He was generally on the Whig electoral tickets, and made himself heard
during each successive canvas,* but he seemed to have lost that zealous
interest in politics which characterized his earlier days. He plodded
on unaware of, and seemingly without ambition for, the great distinction
that lay in store for him.

     * In the campaign of 1852, when Pierce was the Democratic
     candidate for President, Douglas made speeches for him in
     almost every State in the Union. His "key-note" was sounded
     at Richmond, Va. Lincoln, whose reputation was limited by
     the boundaries of Illinois, was invited by the Scott Club of
     Springfield to answer it, but his soul and heart were not in
     the undertaking. He had not yet been awakened, and,
     considering it entire, the speech was a poor effort. Another
     has truthfully said of it, "If it was distinguished by one
     quality above another it was by its attempts at humor, and
     all those attempts were strained and affected, as well as
     very coarse. He displayed a jealous and petulant temper from
     the first to the last, wholly beneath the dignity of the
     occasion and the importance of the topic. Considered as a
     whole it may be said that none of his public performances
     was more unworthy of its really noble author than this one.
     The closing paragraph will serve as a fair sample of the
     entire speech: "Let us stand by our candidate [Gen. Scott]
     as faithfully as he has always stood by our country, and I
     much doubt if we do not perceive a slight abatement of Judge
     Douglas's confidence in Providence as well as the people. I
     suspect that confidence is not more firmly fixed with the
     Judge than it was with the old woman whose horse ran away
     with her in a buggy. She said she trusted in Providence till
     the 'britchen' broke, and then she didn't know what on
     'airth' to do. The chance is the Judge will see the
     'britchen' broke, and then he can at his leisure bewail the
     fate of Locofocoism as the victim of misplaced confidence."

John T. Stuart relates* that, as he and Lincoln were returning from the
court in Tazewell county in 1850, and were nearing the little town of
Dillon, they engaged in a discussion of the political situation.

     * Statement, J. T. S., MS., July 21, 1865.

"As we were coming down the hill," are Stuart's words, "I said,
'Lincoln, the time is coming when we shall have to be all either
Abolitionists or Democrats.' He thought a moment and then answered,
ruefully and emphatically, 'When that time comes my mind is made up, for
I believe the slavery question can never be successfully compromised.'
I responded with equal emphasis, 'My mind is made up too.'" Thus it was
with Lincoln. But he was too slow to suit the impetuous demand of
the few pronounced Abolitionists whom he met in his daily walks. The
sentiment of the majority in Springfield tended in the other direction,
and, thus environed, Lincoln lay down like the sleeping lion. The future
would yet arouse him. At that time I was an ardent Abolitionist in
sentiment. I used to warn Lincoln against his apparent conservatism
when the needs of the hour were so great; but his only answer would be,
'Billy, you're too rampant and spontaneous.' I was in correspondence
with Sumner, Greeley, Phillips, and Garrison, and was thus thoroughly
imbued with all the rancor drawn from such strong anti-slavery sources.
I adhered to Lincoln, relying on the final outcome of his sense of
justice and right. Every time a good speech on the great issue was made
I sent for it. Hence you could find on my table the latest utterances
of Giddings, Phillips, Sumner, Seward, and one whom I considered grander
than all the others--Theodore Parker. Lincoln and I took such papers
as the _Chicago Tribune, New York Tribune, Anti-Slavery Standard,
Emancipator, and National Era_. On the other side of the question we
took the _Charleston Mercury and the Richmond Enquirer_. I also bought
a book called "Sociology," written by one Fitzhugh, which defended and
justified slavery in every conceivable way. In addition I purchased all
the leading histories of the slavery movement, and other works which
treated on that subject. Lincoln himself never bought many books, but he
and I both read those I have named. After reading them we would discuss
the questions they touched upon and the ideas they suggested, from our
different points of view. I was never conscious of having made much of
an impression on Mr. Lincoln, nor do I believe I ever changed his
views. I will go further and say, that, from the profound nature of his
conclusions and the labored method by which he arrived at them, no man
is entitled to the credit of having either changed or greatly modified
them. I remember once, after having read one of Theodore Parker's
sermons on slavery, saying to Mr. Lincoln substantially this: "I have
always noticed that ill-gotten wealth does no man any good. This is as
true of nations as individuals. I believe that all the ill-gotten gain
wrenched by us from the negro through his enslavement will eventually be
taken from us, and we will be set back where we began." Lincoln thought
my prophecy rather direful. He doubted seriously if either of us would
live to see the righting of so great a wrong; but years after, when
writing his second Inaugural address, he endorsed the idea. Clothing it
in the most beautiful language, he says: "Yet if God wills that it [ the
war ] continue till all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred
and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop
of blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn by the sword,
as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, 'The
judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'" The passage
in May, 1854, of the Kansas-Nebraska bill swept out of sight the
Missouri Compromise and the Compromise measures of 1850. This bill,
designed and carried through by Douglas, was regarded by him as the
masterpiece of all his varied achievements in legislation. It served to
prove more clearly than anything he had ever before done his flexibility
and want of political conscience. Although in years gone before he had
invoked the vengeance of Heaven on the ruthless hand that should dare to
disturb the sanctity of the compact of 1821, yet now he was the arrogant
and audacious leader in the very work he had so heartily condemned. When
we consider the bill and the unfortunate results which followed it in
the border States we are irresistibly led to conclude that it was, all
things considered, a great public wrong and a most lamentable piece of
political jugglery. The stump speech which Thomas H. Benton charged that
Douglas had "injected into the belly of the bill" contains all there was
of Popular Sovereignty--"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," an argument which, using
Lincoln's words, "amounts to this: That if any one man chooses to
enslave another no third man shall be allowed to object." The widespread
feeling the passage of this law aroused everywhere over the Union is
a matter of general history. It stirred up in New England the latent
hostility to the aggression of slavery; it stimulated to extraordinary
endeavors the derided Abolitionists, arming them with new weapons; it
sounded the death-knell of the gallant old Whig party; it drove together
strange, discordant elements in readiness to fight a common enemy; it
brought to the forefront a leader in the person of Lincoln.

The revolt of Cook, Judd, and Palmer, all young and progressive,
from the Democratic majority in the Legislature was the first sign of
discontent in Illinois. The rude and partly hostile reception of
Douglas, on his arrival in Chicago, did not in any degree tend to
allay the feeling of disapproval so general in its manifestation. The
warriors, young and old, removed their armor from the walls, and began
preparations for the impending conflict. Lincoln had made a few speeches
in aid of Scott during the campaign of 1852, but they were efforts
entirely unworthy of the man. Now, however, a live issue was presented
to him. No one realized this sooner than he. In the office discussions
he grew bolder in his utterances. He insisted that the social and
political difference between slavery and freedom was becoming more
marked; that one must overcome the other; and that postponing the
struggle between them would only make it the more deadly in the end.
"The day of compromise," he still contended, "has passed. These two
great ideas have been kept apart only by the most artful means. They are
like two wild beasts in sight of each other, but chained and held apart.
Some day these deadly antagonists will one or the other break their
bonds, and then the question will be settled." In a conversation with
a fellow-lawyer* he said of slavery: "It is the most glittering,
ostentatious, and displaying property in the world, and now, if a
young man goes courting, the only inquiry is how many negroes he or his
lady-love owns. The love for slave property is swallowing up every
other mercenary possession. Slavery is a great and crying injustice--an
enormous national crime." At another time he made the observation that
it was "singular that the courts would hold that a man never lost
his right to his property that had been stolen from him, but that he
instantly lost his right to himself if he was stolen." It is useless to
add more evidence--for it could be piled mountain high--showing that at
the very outset Mr. Lincoln was sound to the core on the injustice and
crime of human slavery.

     * Joseph Gillespie, MS. letter, June 9,'66.

After a brief rest at his home in Chicago Mr. Douglas betook himself to
the country, and in October, during the week of the State Fair, we
find him in Springfield. On Tuesday he made a speech in the State House
which, in view of the hostile attitude of some of his own party
friends, was a labored defense of his position. It was full of ingenious
sophistry and skilful argument. An unprecedented concourse of people had
gathered from all parts of the State, and Douglas, fresh from the halls
of Congress, was the lion of the hour. On the following day Mr. Lincoln,
as the champion of the opponents of Popular Sovereignty, was selected
to represent those who disagreed with the new legislation, and to answer
Douglas. His speech encouraged his friends no less than it startled his
enemies. At this time I was zealously interested in the new movement,
and not less so in Lincoln. I frequently wrote the editorials in the
Springfield _Journal_ the editor, Simeon Francis, giving to Lincoln and
to me the utmost liberty in that direction. Occasionally Lincoln would
write out matter for publication, but I believe I availed myself of the
privilege oftener than he. The editorial in the issue containing the
speeches of Lincoln and Douglas on this occasion was my own, and
while in description it may seem rather strongly imbued with youthful
enthusiasm, yet on reading it in maturer years I am still inclined to
believe it reasonably faithful to the facts and the situation. "The
anti-Nebraska speech of Mr. Lincoln," says the article, "was the
profoundest in our opinion that he has made in his whole life. He felt
upon his soul the truths burn which he uttered, and all present felt
that he was true to his own soul. His feelings once or twice swelled
within, and came near stifling utterance. He quivered with emotion. The
whole house was as still as death. He attacked the Nebraska bill with
unusual warmth and energy; and all felt that a man of strength was its
enemy, and that he intended to blast it if he could by strong and manly
efforts. He was most successful, and the house approved the glorious
triumph of truth by loud and continued huzzas. Women waved their white
handkerchiefs in token of woman's silent but heartfelt assent. Douglas
felt the sting; the animal within him was roused because he frequently
interrupted Mr. Lincoln. His friends felt that he was crushed by
Lincoln's powerful argument, manly logic, and illustrations from nature
around us. The Nebraska bill was shivered, and like a tree of the
forest was torn and rent asunder by the hot bolts of truth. Mr. Lincoln
exhibited Douglas in all the attitudes he could be placed, in a friendly
debate. He exhibited the bill in all its aspects to show its humbuggery
and falsehood, and, when thus torn to rags, cut into slips, held up to
the gaze of the vast crowd, a kind of scorn and mockery was visible upon
the face of the crowd and upon the lips of their most eloquent speaker.
At the conclusion of this speech every man and child felt that it was
unanswerable. He took the heart captive and broke like a sun over the

Anent the subject of editorial writing it may not be inappropriate to
relate that Lincoln and I both kept on furnishing political matter of
many varieties for the Springfield _Journal_ until 1860. Many of the
editorials that I wrote were intended directly or indirectly to promote
the interest of Lincoln. I wrote one on the advisability of annexing
Cuba to the United States, taking the rather advanced ground that
slavery would be abolished in Cuba before it would in this country--a
position which aroused no little controversy with other papers. One
little incident occurs to me in this connection which may not be without
interest to newspaper men. A newspaper had been started in Springfield
called the _Conservative_, which, it was believed, was being run in the
interest of the Democratic party. While pretending to support Fillmore
it was kept alive by Buchanan men and other kindred spirits, who were
somewhat pro-slavery in their views. The thing was damaging Lincoln and
the friends of freedom more than an avowed Democratic paper could. The
editor, an easy, good-natured fellow, simply placed in charge to execute
the will of those who gave the paper its financial backing, was a
good friend of mine, and by means of this friendship I was always well
informed of matters in the _Conservative_ editorial room. One day I read
in the Richmond _Enquirer_ an article endorsing slavery, and arguing
that from principle the enslavement of either whites or blacks was
justifiable and right. I showed it to Lincoln, who remarked that it was
"rather rank doctrine for Northern Democrats to endorse. I should like
to see," he said, with emphasis, "some of these Illinois newspapers
champion that." I told him if he would only wait and keep his own
counsel I would have a pro-slavery organ in Springfield publish that
very article. He doubted it, but when I told him how it was to be
done he laughed and said, "Go in." I cut the slip out and succeeded in
getting it in the paper named. Of course it was a trick, but it acted
admirably. Its appearance in the new organ, although without comment,
almost ruined that valuable journal, and my good-natured friend the
editor was nearly overcome by the denunciation of those who were
responsible for the organ's existence. My connection, and Lincoln's
too,--for he endorsed the trick,--with the publication of the condemned
article was eventually discovered, and we were thereafter effectually
prevented from getting another line in the paper. The anti-slavery
people quoted the article as having been endorsed by a Democratic
newspaper in Springfield, and Lincoln himself used it with telling
effect. He joined in the popular denunciation, expressing great
astonishment that such a sentiment could find lodgment in any paper
in Illinois, although he knew full well how the whole thing had been
carried through.

During the remainder of the State-Fair week, speeches were made by Lyman
Trumbull, Sidney Breese, E. D. Taylor, and John Calhoun, none of which
unfortunately have been preserved. Among those who mingled in the
crowd and listened to them was Owen Lovejoy, a radical, fiery, brave,
fanatical man, it may be, but one full of the virus of Abolitionism. I
had been thoroughly inoculated with the latter myself, and so had
many others, who helped to swell the throng. The Nebraska movement had
kindled anew the old zeal, and inspired us with renewed confidence
to begin the crusade. As many of us as could, assembled together to
organize for the campaign before us. As soon therefore as Lincoln
finished his speech in the hall of the House of Representatives,
Lovejoy, moving forward from the crowd, announced a meeting in the same
place that evening of all the friends of Freedom. That of course meant
the Abolitionists with whom I had been in conference all the day. Their
plan had been to induce Mr. Lincoln to speak for them at their meeting.
Strong as I was in the faith, yet I doubted the propriety of Lincoln's
taking any stand yet. As I viewed it, he was ambitious to climb to the
United States Senate, and on grounds of policy it would not do for him
to occupy at that time such advanced ground as we were taking. On the
other hand, it was equally as dangerous to refuse a speech for the
Abolitionists. I did not know how he felt on the subject, but on
learning that Lovejoy intended to approach him with an invitation,
I hunted up Lincoln and urged him to avoid meeting the enthusiastic
champion of Abolitionism. "Go home at once," I said. "Take Bob with you
and drive somewhere into the country and stay till this thing is over."
Whether my admonition and reasoning moved him or not I do not know,
but it only remains to state that under pretence of having business in
Tazewell county he drove out of town in his buggy, and did not return
till the apostles of Abolitionism had separated and gone to their
homes.* I have always believed this little arrangement--it would dignify
it too much to call it a plan--saved Lincoln. If he had endorsed the
resolutions passed at the meeting, or spoken simply in favor of freedom
that night, he would have been identified with all the rancor and
extremes of Abolitionism. If, on the contrary, he had been invited
to join them, and then had refused to take a position as advanced as
theirs, he would have lost their support. In either event he was in
great danger; and so he who was aspiring to succeed his old rival, James
Shields, in the United States Senate was forced to avoid the issue by
driving hastily in his one horse buggy to the court in Tazewell county.
A singular coincidence suggests itself in the fact that, twelve years
before, James Shields and a friend drove hastily in the same direction,
and destined for the same point, to force Lincoln to take issue in
another and entirely different matter.

     * See Lincoln's Speech, Joint Debate, Ottawa, Ills., Aug.
     20, 1858.

By request of party friends Lincoln was induced to follow after Douglas
and, at the various places where the latter had appointments to speak,
reply to him. On the 16th of October they met at Peoria, where Douglas
enjoyed the advantages of an "open and close." Lincoln made an effective
speech, which he wrote out and furnished to the Sangamon _Journal_ for
publication, and which can be found among his public utterances. His
party friends in Springfield and elsewhere, who had urged him to push
after Douglas till he cried, "enough," were surprised a few days after
the Peoria debate to find him at home, with the information that by an
agreement with the latter they were both to return home and speak no
more during the campaign. Judge of his astonishment a few days later to
find that his rival, instead of going direct to his home in Chicago,
had stopped at Princeton and violated his express agreement by making
a speech there! Lincoln was much displeased at this action of Douglas,
which tended to convince him that the latter was really a man devoid of
fixed political morals. I remember his explanation in our office made to
me, William Butler, William Jayne, Ben. F. Irwin, and other friends, to
account for his early withdrawal from the stump. After the Peoria debate
Douglas approached him and flattered him by saying that he was giving
him more trouble on the territorial and slavery questions than all the
United States Senate, and he therefore proposed to him that both should
abandon the field and return to their homes. Now Lincoln could never
refuse a polite request--one in which no principle was involved. I have
heard him say, "It's a fortunate thing I wasn't born a woman, for
I cannot refuse anything, it seems." He therefore consented to the
cessation of debate proposed by Douglas, and the next day both went
to the town of Lacon, where they had been billed for speeches.
Their agreement was kept from their friends, and both declined to
speak--Douglas, on the ground of hoarseness, and Lincoln gallantly
refusing to take advantage of "Judge Douglas's indisposition." Here they
separated, Lincoln going directly home, and Douglas, as before related,
stopping at Princeton and colliding in debate with Owen Lovejoy. Upon
being charged afterwards with his breach of agreement Douglas responded
that Lovejoy "bantered and badgered" him so persistently he could not
gracefully resist the encounter. The whole thing thoroughly displeased

     * In a letter from Princeton, Ill., March 15, 1866, John H.
     Bryant, brother of the poet William Cullen Bryant, writes:
     "I have succeeded in finding an old file of our Princeton
     papers, from which I learn that Mr. Douglas spoke here on
     Wednesday, Oct. 18, 1854. This fixes the date. I recollect
     that he staid at Tiskilwa, six miles south of this, the
     night before, and a number of our Democrats went down the
     next morning and escorted him to this place. Douglas spoke
     first one half-hour and was answered by Lovejoy one half-
     hour, when Douglas talked till dark, giving no opportunity
     for reply.

     "Yours truly,

     "John H. Bryant."

During this campaign Lincoln was nominated and elected to the
Legislature. This was done in the face of his unwillingness and over his
protest. On the ticket with him was Judge Logan. Both were elected by
a majority of about 600 votes. Lincoln, being ambitious to reach the
United States Senate, and warmly encouraged in his aspirations by his
wife, resigned his seat in the Legislature in order that he might the
more easily be elected to succeed his old rival James Shields, who was
then one of the senators from Illinois. His canvass for that exalted
office was marked by his characteristic activity and vigilance. During
the anxious moments that intervened between the general election and
the assembling of the Legislature he slept, like Napoleon, with one eye
open. While attending court at Clinton on the 11th of November, a few
days after the election, he wrote to a party friend in the town
of Paris: "I have a suspicion that a Whig has been elected to the
Legislature from Edgar. If this is not so, why then, '_nix cum arous_;
but if it is so, then could you not make a mark with him for me for U.
S. Senator? I really have some chance. Please write me at Springfield
giving me the names, post-offices, and political positions of
your Representative and Senator, whoever they may be. Let this be

That man who thinks Lincoln calmly sat down and gathered his robes about
him, waiting for the people to call him, has a very erroneous knowledge
of Lincoln. He was always calculating, and always planning ahead. His
ambition was a little engine that knew no rest. The vicissitudes of a
political campaign brought into play all his tact and management and
developed to its fullest extent his latent industry. In common with
other politicians he never overlooked a newspaper man who had it in his
power to say a good or bad thing of him. The press of that day was not
so powerful an institution as now, but ambitious politicians courted the
favor of a newspaper man with as much zeal as the same class of men have
done in later days. I remember a letter Lincoln once wrote to the editor
of an obscure little country newspaper in southern Illinois in which he
warms up to him in the following style.* "Friend Harding: I have been
reading your paper for three or four years and have paid you nothing
for it." He then encloses ten dollars and admonishes the editor with
innocent complacency: "Put it into your pocket, saying nothing further
about it." Very soon thereafter, he prepared an article on political
matters and sent it to the rural journalist, requesting its publication
in the editorial columns of his "valued paper," but the latter, having
followed Lincoln's directions and stowed the ten dollars away in
his pocket, and alive to the importance of his journal's influence,
declined, "because," he said, "I long ago made it a rule to publish
nothing as editorial matter not written by myself." Lincoln read the
editor's answer to me. Although the laugh was on Lincoln he enjoyed the
joke heartily. "That editor," he said, "has a rather lofty but proper
conception of true journalism."

Meanwhile the Legislature had convened and the Senatorial question came
on for solution. The history of this contest is generally understood,
and the world has repeatedly been told how Lincoln was led to expect the
place and would have won but for the apostasy of the five anti-Nebraska
men of Democratic antecedents who clung to and finally forced the
election of Lyman Trumbull. The student of history in after years will
be taught to revere the name of Lincoln for his exceeding magnanimity
in inducing his friends to abandon him at the critical period and save
Trumbull, while he himself disappeared beneath the waves of defeat.*

     * "After a number of ballots--Judd of Cook, Cook of La
     Salle, Palmer of Macoupin, and Allen and Baker of Madison
     voting for Trumbull--I asked Mr. Lincoln what he would
     advise us to do. He answered, 'Go for Trumbull by all
     means.' We understood the case to be that Shields was to be
     run by the Democrats at first and then to be dropped, and
     Joel A. Matteson put up; and it was calculated that certain
     of our men who had been elected on the 'Free Soil' issue
     would vote for him after they had acted with us long enough
     to satisfy their consciences and constituents. Our object
     was to force an election before they got through with their
     programme. We were savagely opposed to Matteson, and so was
     Mr. Lincoln, who said that if we did not drop in and unite
     upon Trumbull the five men above-named would go for Matteson
     and elect him, which would be an everlasting disgrace to the
     State. We reluctantly complied; went to Trumbull and elected
     him. I remember that Judge S. T. Logan gave up Lincoln with
     great reluctance. He begged hard to try him on one or two
     ballots more, but Mr. Lincoln urged us not to risk it
     longer. I never saw the latter more earnest and decided. He
     congratulated Trumbull warmly, although of course greatly
     disappointed and mortified at his own want of success."--
     Joseph Gillespie, letter, September 19, 1866, MS.

[Illustration: Lyman Trumbull 066]

This frustration of Lincoln's ambition had a marked effect on his
political views. It was plain to him now that the "irrepressible
conflict" was not far ahead. With the strengthening of his faith in a
just cause so long held in abeyance he became more defiant each day. But
in the very nature of things he dared not be as bold and outspoken as
I. With him every word and sentence had to be weighed and its effects
calculated, before being uttered: but with me that operation had to be
reversed if done at all. An incident that occurred about this time will
show how his views were broadening. Some time after the election of
Trumbull a young negro, the son of a colored woman in Springfield known
as Polly, went from his home to St. Louis and there hired as a hand on
a lower Mississippi boat,--for what special service, I do not
recollect,--arriving in New Orleans without what were known as free
papers. Though born free he was subjected to the tyranny of the "black
code," all the more stringent because of the recent utterances of the
Abolitionists in the North, and was kept in prison until his boat
had left. Then, as no one was especially interested in him, he was
forgotten. After a certain length of time established by law, he would
inevitably have been sold into slavery to defray prison expenses had not
Lincoln and I interposed our aid. The mother came to us with the story
of the wrong done her son and induced us to interfere in her behalf.
We went first to see the Governor of Illinois, who, after patient and
thorough examination of the law, responded that he had no right or power
to interfere. Recourse was then had to the Governor of Louisiana, who
responded in like manner. We were sorely perplexed. A second interview
with the Governor of Illinois resulting in nothing favorable Lincoln
rose from his chair, hat in hand, and exclaimed with some emphasis: "By
God, Governor, I'll make the ground in this country too hot for the foot
of a slave, whether you have the legal power to secure the release of
this boy or not." Having exhausted all legal means to recover the
negro we dropped our relation as lawyers to the case. Lincoln drew up
a subscription-list, which I circulated, collecting funds enough to
purchase the young man's liberty. The money we sent to Col. A. P.
Fields, a friend of ours in New Orleans, who applied it as directed, and
it restored the prisoner to his overjoyed mother.

The political history of the country, commencing in 1854 and continuing
till the outbreak of the Rebellion, furnishes the student a constant
succession of stirring and sometimes bloody scenes. No sooner had
Lincoln emerged from the Senatorial contest in February, 1855, and
absorbed himself in the law, than the outrages on the borders of
Missouri and Kansas began to arrest public attention. The stories of
raids, election frauds, murders, and other crimes were moving eastward
with marked rapidity. These outbursts of frontier lawlessness, led and
sanctioned by the avowed pro-slavery element, were not only stirring up
the Abolitionists to fever heat, but touching the hearts of humanity
in general. In Illinois an association was formed to aid the cause
of "Free-Soil" men in Kansas. In the meetings of these bands the
Abolitionists of course took the most prominent part. At Springfield
we were energetic, vigilant, almost revolutionary. We recommended the
employment of any means, however desperate, to promote and defend the
cause of freedom. At one of these meetings Lincoln was called on for
a speech. He responded to the request, counselling moderation and less
bitterness in dealing with the situation before us. We were belligerent
in tone, and clearly out of patience with the Government. Lincoln
opposed the notion of coercive measures with the possibility of
resulting bloodshed, advising us to eschew resort to the bullet. "You
can better succeed," he declared, "with the ballot. You can peaceably
then redeem the Government and preserve the liberties of mankind
through your votes and voice and moral influence.... Let there be peace.
Revolutionize through the ballot box, and restore the Government once
more to the affections and hearts of men by making it express, as it was
intended to do, the highest spirit of justice and liberty. Your attempt,
if there be such, to resist the laws of Kansas by force is criminal and
wicked; and all your feeble attempts will be follies and end in
bringing sorrow on your heads and ruin the cause you would freely die to
preserve!" These judicious words of counsel, while they reduced somewhat
our ardor and our desperation, only placed before us in their real
colors the grave features of the situation. We raised a neat sum of
money, Lincoln showing his sincerity by joining in the subscription, and
forwarded it to our friends in Kansas.

The Whig party, having accomplished its mission in the political world,
was now on the eve of a great break-up. Lincoln realized this and,
though proverbially slow in his movements, prepared to find a firm
footing when the great rush of waters should come and the maddening
freshet sweep former landmarks out of sight. Of the strongest
significance in this connection is a letter written by him at this
juncture to an old friend in Kentucky, who called to his attention
their differences of views on the wrong of slavery. Speaking of his
observation of the treatment of the slaves, he says: "I confess I hate
to see the poor creatures hunted down and caught and carried back to
their unrequited toils; but I bite my lips and keep quiet. In 1841 you
and I had rather a tedious low-water trip on a steamboat from Louisville
to St. Louis. You may remember, as I well do, that from Louisville
to the mouth of the Ohio, there were on board ten or a dozen slaves
shackled together with irons. That sight was a continued torment to me;
and I see something like it every time I touch the Ohio or any slave
border. It is not fair for you to assume that I have no interest in
a thing which has, and continually exercises, the power of making me
miserable. You ought rather to appreciate how much the great body of
the Northern people do crucify their feelings in order to maintain their
loyalty to the Constitution and the Union. I do oppose the extension of
slavery because my judgment and feeling so prompt me; and I am under no
obligations to the contrary. If for this you and I must differ, differ
we must."

Finding himself drifting about with the disorganized elements that
floated together after the angry political waters had subsided, it
became apparent to Lincoln that if he expected to figure as a leader he
must take a stand himself. Mere hatred of slavery and opposition to
the injustice of the Kansas-Nebraska legislation were not all that were
required of him. He must be a Democrat, Know-Nothing, Abolitionist, or
Republican, or forever float about in the great political sea without
compass, rudder, or sail. At length he declared himself. Believing the
times were ripe for more advanced movements, in the spring of 1856 I
drew up a paper for the friends of freedom to sign, calling a county
convention in Springfield to select delegates for the forthcoming
Republican State convention in Bloomington. The paper was freely
circulated and generously signed. Lincoln was absent at the time and,
believing I knew what his "feeling and judgment" on the vital questions
of the hour were, I took the liberty to sign his name to the call. The
whole was then published in the Springfield _Journal_. No sooner had
it appeared than John T. Stuart, who, with others, was endeavoring to
retard Lincoln in his advanced movements, rushed into the office and
excitedly asked if "Lincoln had signed that Abolition call in the
Journal?" I answered in the negative, adding that I had signed his
name myself. To the question, "Did Lincoln authorize you to sign it?" I
returned an emphatic "No." "Then," exclaimed the startled and indignant
Stuart, "you have ruined him." But I was by no means alarmed at what
others deemed inconsiderate and hasty action. I thought I understood
Lincoln thoroughly, but in order to vindicate myself if assailed I
immediately sat down, after Stuart had rushed out of the office, and
wrote Lincoln, who was then in Tazewell County attending court, a brief
account of what I had done and how much stir it was creating in the
ranks of his conservative friends. If he approved or disapproved my
course I asked him to write or telegraph me at once. In a brief time
came his answer: "All right; go ahead. Will meet you--radicals and
all." Stuart subsided, and the conservative spirits who hovered around
Springfield no longer held control of the political fortunes of Abraham

The Republican party came into existence in Illinois as a party at
Bloomington, May 29, 1856. The State convention of all opponents of
anti-Nebraska legislation, referred to in a foregoing paragraph, had
been set for that day. Judd, Yates, Trumbull, Swett, and Davis were
there; so also was Lovejoy, who, like Otis of colonial fame, was a flame
of fire. The firm of Lincoln and Herndon was represented by both members
in person. The gallant William H. Bissell, who had ridden at the head of
the Second Illinois Regiment at the battle of Buena Vista in the Mexican
war, was nominated as governor. The convention adopted a platform
ringing with strong anti-Nebraska sentiments, and then and there gave
the Republican party its official christening. The business of the
convention being over, Mr. Lincoln, in response to repeated calls, came
forward and delivered a speech of such earnestness and power that no one
who heard it will ever forget the effect it produced. In referring to
this speech some years ago I used the following rather graphic language:
"I have heard or read all of Mr. Lincoln's great speeches, and I give
it as my opinion that the Bloomington speech was the grand effort of his
life. Heretofore he had simply argued the slavery question on grounds
of policy,--the statesman's grounds,--never reaching the question of
the radical and the eternal right. Now he was newly baptized and freshly
born; he had the fervor of a new convert; the smothered flame broke
out; enthusiasm unusual to him blazed up; his eyes were aglow with an
inspiration; he felt justice; his heart was alive to the right; his
sympathies, remarkably deep for him, burst forth, and he stood before
the throne of the eternal Right. His speech was full of fire and energy
and force; it was logic; it was pathos; it was enthusiasm; it was
justice, equity, truth, and right set ablaze by the divine fires of a
soul maddened by the wrong; it was hard, heavy, knotty, gnarly, backed
with wrath. I attempted for about fifteen minutes as was usual with me
then to take notes, but at the end of that time I threw pen and paper
away and lived only in the inspiration of the hour. If Mr. Lincoln was
six feet, four inches high usually, at Bloomington that day he was seven
feet, and inspired at that. From that day to the day of his death he
stood firm in the right. He felt his great cross, had his great idea,
nursed it, kept it, taught it to others, in his fidelity bore witness
of it to his death, and finally sealed it with his precious blood." The
foregoing paragraph, used by me in a lecture in 1866, may to the
average reader seem somewhat vivid in description, besides inclining to
extravagance in imagery, yet although more than twenty years have passed
since it was written I have never seen the need of altering a single
sentence. I still adhere to the substantial truthfulness of the scene
as described. Unfortunately Lincoln's speech was never written out nor
printed, and we are obliged to depend for its reproduction upon personal

The Bloomington convention and the part Lincoln took in it met no such
hearty response in Springfield as we hoped would follow. It fell flat,
and in Lincoln's case drove from him many persons who had heretofore
been his warm political friends. A few days after our return we
announced a meeting at the court-house to ratify the action of the
Bloomington convention. After the usual efforts to draw a crowd,
however, only three persons had temerity enough to attend. They were
Lincoln, the writer, and a courageous man named John Pain. Lincoln, in
answer to the "deafening calls" for a speech, responded that the meeting
was larger than he _knew_ it would be, and that while he knew that he
himself and his partner would attend he was not sure anyone else would,
and yet another man had been found brave enough to come out. "While all
seems dead," he exhorted, "the age itself is not. It liveth as sure as
our Maker liveth. Under all this seeming want of life and motion, the
world does move nevertheless. Be hopeful, and now let us adjourn and
appeal to the people."

Not only in Springfield but everywhere else the founders of the
Republican party--the apostles of freedom--went out to battle for the
righteousness of their cause. Lincoln, having as usual been named as one
of the Presidential electors, canvassed the State, making in all about
fifty speeches. He was in demand everywhere. I have before me a package
of letters addressed to him, inviting him to speak at almost every
county seat in the State. Yates wanted him to go to one section of the
State, Washburne to another, and Trumbull still another; while every
cross-roads politician and legislative aspirant wanted him "down in our
country, where we need your help." Joshua R. Giddings wrote him words of
encouragement. "You may start," said the valiant old Abolitionist in
a letter from Peoria,* "on the one great issue of restoring Kansas and
Nebraska to freedom, or rather of restoring the Missouri Compromise, and
in this State no power on earth can withstand you on that issue." The
demand for Lincoln was not confined to his own State. Indiana sent for
him, Wisconsin also, while Norman B. Judd and Ebenezer Peck, who were
stumping Iowa, sent for him to come there.

     * J. R. Giddings, MS. letter, Sept. 18, 1855.

A town committee invited him to come during "our Equestrian Fair on the
9th, 10th, and 11th," evidently anticipating a three days' siege. An
enthusiastic officer in a neighboring town urges him: "Come to our
place, because in you do our people place more confidence than in any
other man. Men who do not read want the story told as you only can tell
it. Others may make fine speeches, but it would not be 'Lincoln said
so in his speech.'" A jubilant friend in Chicago writes: "Push on the
column of freedom. Give the Buck Africans plenty to do in Egypt. The
hour of our redemption draweth nigh. We are coming to Springfield
with 20,000 majority!" A postmaster, acting under the courage of his
convictions, implores him to visit his neighborhood. "The Democrats
here," he insists, "are dyed in the wool. Thunder and lightning would
not change their political complexion. I am postmaster here," he adds,
confidentially, "for which reason I must ask you to keep this private,
for if old Frank [President Pierce] were to hear of my support of
Frémont I would get my walking papers sure enough." A settlement of
Germans in southern Indiana asked to hear him; and the president of
a college, in an invitation to address the students under his charge,
characterizes him as "one providentially raised up for a time like this,
and even should defeat come in the contest, it would be some consolation
to remember we had Hector for a leader."

And thus it was everywhere. Lincoln's importance in the conduct of the
campaign was apparent to all, and his canvass was characterized by his
usual vigor and effectiveness. He was especially noted for his attempt
to break down the strength of Fillmore, who was nominated as a third
party candidate and was expected to divide the Republican vote. He tried
to wean away Fillmore's adherents by an adroit and ingenious
letter* sent to those suspected of the latter's support, and marked
confidential, in which he strove to show that in clinging to their
candidate they were really aiding the election of Buchanan. But the
effort proved unavailing, for in spite of all his arguments and appeals
a large number of the Fillmore men clung tenaciously to their leader,
resulting in Buchanan's election. The vote in Illinois stood, Buchanan
105,344, Frémont 96,180, and Fillmore 37,451. At the same time Bissell
was elected governor by a majority of 4729 over W. A. Richardson,
Democrat. After the heat and burden of the day Lincoln returned home,
bearing with him more and greater laurels than ever. The signs of the
times indicated, and the result of the canvass demonstrated, that he and
he alone was powerful enough to meet the redoubtable Little Giant in a
greater conflict yet to follow.

     * One of these letters which Lincoln wrote to counteract the
     Fillmore movement is still in my possession. As it is more
     or less characteristic I copy it entire:

     "Springfield, September 8,1856.

     "Harrison Maltby, Esq.

     "Dear Sir:

     "I understand you are a Fillmore man. Let me prove to you
     that every vote withheld from Frémont and given to Fillmore
     in this State actually lessens Fillmore's chance of being

     "Suppose Buchanan gets all the slave States and Pennsylvania
     and any other one State besides; then he is elected, no
     matter who gets all the rest. But suppose Fillmore gets the
     two slave States of Maryland and Kentucky, then Buchanan is
     not elected; Fillmore goes into the House of Representatives
     and may be made President by a compromise. But suppose again
     Fillmore's friends throw away a few thousand votes on him in
     Indiana and Illinois; it will inevitably give these States
     to Buchanan, which will more than compensate him for the
     loss of Maryland and Kentucky; it will elect him, and leave
     Fillmore no chance in the House of Representatives or out of

     "This is as plain as adding up the weight of three small
     hogs. As Mr. Fillmore has no possible chance to carry
     Illinois for himself it is plainly to his interest to let
     Frémont take it and thus keep it out of the hands of
     Buchanan. Be not deceived. Buchanan is the hard horse to
     beat in this race. Let him have Illinois, and nothing can
     beat him; and he will get Illinois if men persist in
     throwing away votes upon Mr. Fillmore. Does some one
     persuade you that Mr. Fillmore can carry Illinois? Nonsense!
     There are over seventy newspapers in Illinois opposing
     Buchanan, only three or four of which support Mr. Fillmore,
     all the rest going for Frémont. Are not these newspapers a
     fair index of the proportion of the votes? If not, tell me

     "Again, of these three or four Fillmore newspapers, two at
     least are supported in part by the Buchanan men, as I
     understand. Do not they know where the shoe pinches? They
     know the Fillmore movement helps them, and therefore they
     help it.

     "Do think these things over and then act according to your

     "Yours very truly,

     "A. LINCOLN." [Confidential.]


I SHALL be forced to omit much that happened during the interval between
the election of Buchanan and the campaign of 1858, for the reason that
it would not only swell this work to undue proportions, but be a mere
repetition of what has been better told by other writers. It is
proper to note in passing, however, that Mr. Lincoln's reputation as a
political speaker was no longer bounded by the border lines of Illinois.
It had passed beyond the Wabash, the Ohio, and the Mississippi rivers,
and while his pronounced stand on the slavery question had increased the
circle of his admirers in the North it provoked a proportionate amount
of execration in the South. He could not help the feeling that he was
now the leading Republican in his State, and he was therefore more or
less jealous of his prerogative. Formidable in debate, plain in
speech, without pretence of literary acquirements, he was none the less
self-reliant. He already envied the ascendancy and domination Douglas
exercised over his followers, and felt keenly the slight given him by
others of his own faith whom he conceived were disposed to prevent his
attaining the leadership of his party. I remember early in 1858 of his
coming into the office one morning and speaking in very dejected terms
of the treatment he was receiving at the hands of Horace Greeley. "I
think Greeley," he complained, "is not doing me right. His conduct, I
believe, savors a little of injustice. I am a true Republican and have
been tried already in the hottest part of the anti-slavery fight, and
yet I find him taking up Douglas, a veritable dodger,--once a tool of
the South, now its enemy,--and pushing him to the front. He forgets that
when he does that he pulls me down at the same time. I fear Greeley's
attitude will damage me with Sumner, Seward, Wilson, Phillips, and other
friends in the East." This was said with so much of mingled sadness and
earnestness that I was deeply impressed. Lincoln was gloomy and restless
the entire day. Greeley's letters were driving the enthusiasm out of

     * Greeley's letters were very pointed and sometimes savage.
     Here is one; "I have not proposed to instruct the
     Republicans of Illinois in their political duties, and I
     doubt very much that even so much as is implied in your
     letter can be fairly deduced from anything I have written.
     Now let me make one prediction. If you run a candidate [for
     Congress] against Harris and he is able to canvass he will
     beat you badly. He is more of a man at heart and morally
     than Douglas, and has gone into this fight with more
     earnestness and less calculation. Of the whole Douglas party
     he is the truest and best. I never spoke a dozen words with
     him in my life, having met him but once, but if I lived in
     his district I should vote for him. As I have never spoken
     of him in my paper, and suppose I never shall, I take the
     liberty to say this much to you. Now paddle your own dug-


     "Horace Greeley."

He seemed unwilling to attend to any business, and finally, just before
noon, left the office, going over to the United States Court room to
play a game of chess with Judge Treat, and did not return again that
day. I pondered a good deal over Lincoln's dejection, and that night,
after weighing the matter well in mind, resolved to go to the eastern
States myself and endeavor to sound some of the great men there. The
next day, on apprising Lincoln of my determination, he questioned its
propriety. Our relations, he insisted, were so intimate that a wrong
construction might be put upon the movement. I listened carefully to
him, but as I had never been beyond the Alleghanies I packed my valise
and went, notwithstanding his objections. I had been in correspondence
on my own account with Greeley, Seward, Sumner, Phillips, and others for
several years, had kept them informed of the feelings of our people and
the political campaigns in their various stages, but had never met any
of them save Greeley. I enjoyed heartily the journey and the varied
sights and scenes that attended it. Aside from my mission, the trip was
a great success. The magnificent buildings, the display of wealth in the
large cities and prosperous manufacturing towns, broadened the views of
one whose vision had never extended beyond the limits of the Illinois
prairies. In Washington I saw and dined with Trumbull, who went over the
situation with me. Trumbull had written to Lincoln shortly before* that
he thought it "useless to speculate upon the further course of Douglas
or the effect it is to have in Illinois or other States. He himself does
not know where he is going or where he will come out."

     * Letter, December 25, 1857, MS.

At my interview with Trumbull, however, he directed me to assure Mr.
Lincoln that Douglas did not mean to join the Republican party, however
great the breach between himself and the administration might be. "We
Republicans here," he said exultingly in another letter to Lincoln, "are
in good spirits, and are standing back to let the fight go on between
Douglas and his former associates. Lincoln will lose nothing by this
if he can keep the attention of our Illinois people from being diverted
from the great and vital question of the day to the minor and temporary
issues which are now being discussed."*

     * Letter, December 27,1857, MS.

In Washington I saw also Seward, Wilson, and others of equal prominence.
Douglas was confined to his house by illness, but on receiving my
card he directed me to be shown up to his room. We had a pleasant
and interesting interview. Of course the conversation soon turned on
Lincoln. In answer to an inquiry regarding the latter I remarked that
Lincoln was pursuing the even tenor of his way. "He is not in anybody's
way," I contended, "not even in yours, Judge Douglas." He was sitting up
in a chair smoking a cigar. Between puffs he responded that neither was
he in the way of Lincoln or any one else, and did not intend to invite
conflict. He conceived that he had achieved what he had set out to do,
and hence did not feel that his course need put him in opposition to
Mr. Lincoln or his party. "Give Mr. Lincoln my regards," he said, rather
warmly, "when you return, and tell him I have crossed the river and
burned my boat." Leaving Washington, my next point was New York, where
I met the editor of the _Anti-Slavery Standard_, Horace Greeley,
Henry Ward Beecher, and others. I had a long talk with Greeley, who,
I noticed, leaned towards Douglas. I found, however, he was not at all
hostile to Lincoln.

I presented the latter's case in the best phase I knew how, but while
I drew but little from him, I left feeling that he hadn't been entirely
won over. He introduced me to Beecher, who, as everybody else did,
inquired after Lincoln and through me sent him words of encouragement
and praise.*

     * Lincoln's greatest fear was that Douglas might be taken up
     by the Republicans. Senator Seward, when I met him in
     Washington, assured me there was no danger of it, insisting
     that the Republicans nor any one else could place any
     reliance on a man so slippery as Douglas.

From New York I went to Boston, and from the latter place I wrote
Lincoln a letter which happily I found not long since in a bundle of
Lincoln's letters, and which I insert here, believing it affords a
better reflex of the situation at the time than anything I might see fit
to say now. Here it is:

"Revere House,

"Boston, Mass., March 24, 1858.

"Friend Lincoln.

"I am in this city of notions, and am well--very well indeed. I wrote
you a hasty letter from Washington some days ago, since which time I
have been in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York, and now here. I saw
Greeley, and so far as any of our conversation is interesting to you
I will relate. And we talked, say twenty minutes. He evidently wants
Douglas sustained and sent back to the Senate. He did not say so in so
many words, yet his feelings are with Douglas. I know it from the spirit
and drift of his conversation. He talked bitterly--somewhat so--against
the papers in Illinois, and said they were fools. I asked him this
question, 'Greeley, do you want to see a third party organized, or do
you want Douglas to ride to power through the North, which he has so
much abused and betrayed? and to which he replied, 'Let the future
alone; it will all come right. Douglas is a brave man. Forget the past
and sustain the _righteous_' Good God, _righteous_, eh!

"Since I have landed in Boston I have seen much that was entertaining
and interesting. This morning I was introduced to Governor Banks. He and
I had a conversation about Republicanism and especially about Douglas.
He asked me this question, 'You will sustain Douglas in Illinois, wont
you?' and to which I said 'No, never!' He affected to be much
surprised, and so the matter dropped and turned on Republicanism, or in
general--Lincoln. Greeley's and other sheets that laud Douglas, Harris,
et al., want them sustained, and will try to do it. Several persons have
asked me the same question which Banks asked, and evidently they get
their cue, ideas, or what not from Greeley, Seward, et al. By-the-bye,
Greeley remarked to me this, 'The Republican standard is too high; we
want something practical.'

"This may not be interesting to you, but, however it may be, it is my
duty to state what is going on, so that you may head it off--counteract
it in some way. I hope it can be done. The Northern men are cold to
me--somewhat repellent.

"Your friend,

"W. H. Herndon."

On my return home I had encouraging news to relate. I told Lincoln of
the favorable mention I had heard of him by Phillips, Sumner, Seward,
Garrison, Beecher, and Greeley. I brought with me additional sermons
and lectures by Theodore Parker, who was warm in his commendation of
Lincoln. One of these was a lecture on "The Effect of Slavery on the
American People," which was delivered in the Music Hall in Boston, and
which I gave to Lincoln, who read and returned it. He liked especially
the following expression, which he marked with a pencil, and which he
in substance afterwards used in his Gettysburg address: "Democracy is
direct self-government, over all the people, for all the people, by all
the people."

Meanwhile, passing by other events which have become interwoven in the
history of the land, we reach April, 1858, at which time the Democratic
State convention met and, besides nominating candidates for State
offices, endorsed Mr. Douglas' services in the Senate, thereby virtually
renominating him for that exalted office. In the very nature of things
Lincoln was the man already chosen in the hearts of the Republicans
of Illinois for the same office, and therefore with singular
appropriateness they passed, with great unanimity, at their convention
in Springfield on the 16th of June, the characteristic resolution: "That
Hon. Abraham Lincoln is our first and only choice for United States
Senator to fill the vacancy about to be created by the expiration of Mr.
Douglas' term of office." There was of course no surprise in this for
Mr. Lincoln. He had been all along led to expect it, and with that
in view had been earnestly and quietly at work preparing a speech in
acknowledgment of the honor about to be conferred on him. This speech
he wrote on stray envelopes and scraps of paper, as ideas suggested
themselves, putting them into that miscellaneous and convenient
receptacle, his hat. As the convention drew near he copied the whole
on connected sheets, carefully revising every line and sentence, and
fastened them together, for reference during the delivery of the speech,
and for publication. The former precaution, however, was unnecessary,
for he had studied and read over what he had written so long and
carefully that he was able to deliver it without the least hesitation or
difficulty. A few days before the convention, when he was at work on the
speech, I remember that Jesse K. Dubois,* who was Auditor of State, came
into the office and, seeing Lincoln busily writing, inquired what he was
doing or what he was writing.

     * "After the convention Lincoln met me on the street and
     said, 'Dubois, I can tell you now what I was doing the other
     day when you came into my office. I was writing that speech,
     and I knew if I read the passage about the "house divided
     against itself" to you, you would ask me to change or modify
     it, and that I was determined not to do. I had willed it so,
     and was willing if necessary to perish with it."--Statement
     of Jesse K. Dubois, MS.

Lincoln answered gruffly, "It's something you may see or hear some time,
but I'll not let you see it now." I myself knew what he was writing,
but having asked neither my opinion nor that of anyone else, I did not
venture to offer any suggestions. After he had finished the final draft
of the speech, he locked the office door, drew the curtain across the
glass panel in the door, and read it to me. At the end of each paragraph
he would halt and wait for my comments. I remember what I said after
hearing the first paragraph, wherein occurs the celebrated figure of the
house divided against itself: "It is true, but is it wise or politic
to say so?" He responded: "That expression is a truth of all human
experience, 'a house divided against itself cannot stand,' and 'he
that runs may read.' The proposition also is true, and has been for six
thousand years. I want to use some universally known figure expressed in
simple language as universally well-known, that may strike home to the
minds of men in order to raise them up to the peril of the times. I do
not believe I would be right in changing or omitting it. I would rather
be defeated with this expression in the speech, and uphold and discuss
it before the people, than be victorious without it." This was not the
first time Lincoln had endorsed the dogma that our Government could not
long endure part slave and part free. He had incorporated it in a speech
at Bloomington in 1856, but in obedience to the emphatic protest
of Judge T. Lyle Dickey and others, who conceived the idea that
its "delivery would make Abolitionists of all the North and slavery
propagandists of all the South, and thereby precipitate a struggle which
might end in disunion," he consented to suspend its repetition,
but only for that campaign.* Now, however, the situation had changed
somewhat. There had been a shifting of scenes, so to speak. The
Republican party had gained some in strength and more in moral
effectiveness and force. Nothing could keep back in Lincoln any longer,
sentiments of right and truth, and he prepared to give the fullest
expression to both in all future contests.

     * "After the meeting was over Mr. Lincoln and I returned to
     the Pike House, where we occupied the same room. Immediately
     on reaching the room I said to him, 'What in God's name
     could induce you to promulgate such an opinion?' He replied
     familiarly, 'Upon my soul, Dickey, I think it is true.' I
     reasoned to show it was not a correct opinion. He argued
     strenuously that the opinion was a sound one. At length I
     said, 'Suppose you are right, that our Government cannot
     last part free and part slave, what good is to be
     accomplished by inculcating that opinion (or truth, if you
     please) in the minds of the people?' After some minutes
     reflection he rose and approached me, extending his right
     hand to take mine, and said, 'From respect for your
     judgment, Dickey, I'll promise you I won't teach the
     doctrine again during this campaign.'"--Letter, T. Lyle
     Dickey, MS., December 8, 1866.

[Illustration: Hall of Representatives, State House, Springfield  090]

Before delivering his speech he invited a dozen or so of his friends
over to the library of the State House, where he read and submitted
it to them. After the reading he asked each man for his opinion. Some
condemned and not one endorsed it. One man, more forcible than elegant,
characterized it as a "d------d fool utterance", another said the doctrine
was "ahead of its time" and still another contended that it would drive
away a good many voters fresh from the Democratic ranks. Each man
attacked it in his criticism. I was the last to respond. Although the
doctrine announced was rather rank, yet it suited my views, and I said,
"Lincoln, deliver that speech as read and it will make you President."
At the time I hardly realized the force of my prophecy. Having patiently
listened to these various criticisms from his friends--all of which
with a single exception were adverse--he rose from his chair, and after
alluding to the careful study and intense thought he had given the
question, he answered all their objections substantially as follows:
"Friends, this thing has been retarded long enough. The time has come
when these sentiments should be uttered; and if it is decreed that I
should go down because of this speech, then let me go down linked to the
truth--let me die in the advocacy of what is just and right." The next
day, the 17th, the speech was delivered just as we had heard it read.
Up to this time Seward had held sway over the North by his "higher-law"
sentiments, but the "house-divided-against-itself" speech by Lincoln in
my opinion drove the nail into Seward's political coffin.*

     * If any student of oratorical history, after reading
     Lincoln's speech on this occasion, will refer to Webster's
     reply to Hayne in the Senate, he will be struck with the
     similarity in figure and thought in the opening lines of
     both speeches. In fact, it may not be amiss to note that, in
     this instance, Webster's effort was carefully read by
     Lincoln and served in part as his model.

Lincoln had now created in reality a more profound impression than he or
his friends anticipated. Many Republicans deprecated the advanced ground
he had taken, the more so as the Democrats rejoiced that it afforded
them an issue clear and well-defined. Numbers of his friends distant
from Springfield, on reading his speech, wrote him censorious letters;
and one well-informed co-worker* predicted his defeat, charging it to
the first ten lines of the speech.

     * Leonard Swett.

These complaints, coming apparently from every quarter, Lincoln bore
with great patience. To one complainant who followed him into his office
he said proudly, "If I had to draw a pen across my record, and erase my
whole life from sight, and I had one poor gift or choice left as to what
I should save from the wreck, I should choose that speech and leave it
to the world unerased." Meanwhile Douglas had returned from Washington
to his home in Chicago. Here he rested for a few days until his friends
and co-workers had arranged the details of a public reception on the
9th of July, when he delivered from the balcony of the Tremont House a
speech intended as an answer to the one made by Lincoln in Springfield.
Lincoln was present at this reception, but took no part in it. The
next day, however, he replied. Both speeches were delivered at the
same place. Leaving Chicago, Douglas passed on down to Bloomington and
Springfield, where he spoke on the 16th and 17th of July respectively.
On the evening of the latter day Lincoln responded again in a most
effective and convincing effort. The contest now took on a different
phase. Lincoln's Republican friends urged him to draw Douglas into a
joint debate, and he accordingly sent him a challenge on the 24th
of July. It is not necessary, I suppose, to reproduce here the
correspondence that passed between these great leaders. On the 30th
Douglas finally accepted the proposition to "divide time, and address
the same audiences," naming seven different places, one in each
Congressional district, outside of Chicago and Springfield, for joint

     * Among the items of preparation on Lincoln's part hitherto
     withheld is the following letter, which explains itself:

[Illustration:  Letter to Campbell 095]

     "Springfield, June 28, 1858.

     "A. Campbell, Esq.

     "My Dear Sir:--In 1856 you gave me authority to draw on you
     for any sum not exceeding five hundred dollars. I see
     clearly that such a privilege would be more available now
     than it was then. I am aware that times are tighter now than
     they were then. Please write me at all events, and whether
     you can now do anything or not I shall continue grateful for
     the past.

     "Yours very truly,

     "A. Lincoln."

     * The following recent letter from Mr. Campbell is not
     without interest:

     La Salle, Ill., Dec. 12th, 1888.

     "Jesse W. Weik, Esq.

     "My Dear Sir:--I gave Mr. Lincoln some money in the office
     of Lincoln & Herndon in Springfield in 1856, but I do not
     remember the exact amount. It was, however, between two and
     three hundred dollars. I never had Mr. Lincoln's obligation
     for the payment of any money. I never kept any account of
     nor charged my memory with any money I gave him. It was
     given to defray his personal expenses and otherwise promote
     the interest of a cause which I sincerely believed to be for
     the public good, and without the thought or expectation of a
     dollar of it ever being returned. From what I knew and
     learned of his careful habits in money matters in the
     campaign of 1856 I am entirely confident that every dollar
     and dime I ever gave was carefully and faithfully applied to
     the uses and purposes for which it was given.

     "Sincerely yours,

     "A. Campbell."

The places and dates were, Ottawa, August 21; Freeport, August 27;
Jonesboro, September 15; Charleston, September 18; Galesburg, October 7;
Quincy, October 13; and Alton, October 15. "I agree to your suggestion,"
wrote Douglas, "that we shall alternately open and close the discussion.
I will speak at Ottawa one hour, you can reply, occupying an hour and
a half, and I will then follow for half an hour. At Freeport you shall
open the discussion and speak one hour, I will follow for an hour and a
half, and you can then reply for half an hour. We will alternate in like
manner in each successive place." To this arrangement Lincoln on the
31st gave his consent, "although," he wrote, "by the terms as you
propose you take four openings and closes to my three."

History furnishes few characters whose lives and careers were so nearly
parallel as those of Lincoln and Douglas. They met for the first time at
the Legislature in Vandalia in 1834, where Lincoln was a member of the
House of Representatives and Douglas was in the lobby. The next year
Douglas was also a member. In 1839 both were admitted to practice in
the Supreme Court of Illinois on the same day.* In 1841 both courted
the same young lady. In 1846 both represented Illinois in Congress at
Washington, the one in the upper and the other in the lower House.
In 1858 they were opposing candidates for United States Senator; and
finally, to complete the remarkable counterpart, both were candidates
for the Presidency in 1860. While it is true that their ambitions ran
in parallel lines, yet they were exceedingly unlike in all other

     * December 3d.

Douglas was short,--something over five feet high,--heavy set, with a
large head, broad shoulders, deep chest, and striking features. He was
polite and affable, but fearless. He had that unique trait, magnetism,
fully developed in his nature, and that attracted a host of friends
and readily made him a popular idol. He had had extensive experience in
debate, and had been trained by contact for years with the great minds
and orators in Congress. He was full of political history, well
informed on general topics, eloquent almost to the point of brilliancy,
self-confident to the point of arrogance, and a dangerous competitor in
every respect. What he lacked in ingenuity he made up in strategy, and
if in debate he could not tear down the structure of his opponent's
argument by a direct and violent attack, he was by no means reluctant
to resort to a strained restatement of the latter's position or to the
extravagance of ridicule. Lincoln knew his man thoroughly and well.*

     * An erroneous impression has grown up in recent years
     concerning Douglas's ability and standing as a lawyer. One
     of the latest biographies of Lincoln credits him with many
     of the artifices of the "shyster." This is not only unfair,
     but decidedly untrue. I always found Douglas at the bar to
     be a broad, fair, and liberal-minded man. Although not a
     thorough student of the law his large fund of good common-
     sense kept him in the front rank. He was equally generous
     and courteous, and he never stooped to gain a case. I know
     that Lincoln entertained the same view of him. It was only
     in politics that Douglas demonstrated any want of
     inflexibility and rectitude, and then only did Lincoln
     manifest a lack of faith in his morals.

He had often met Douglas on the stump; was familiar with his tactics,
and though fully aware of his "want of fixed political morals," was not
averse to measuring swords with the elastic and flexible "Little Giant."

Lincoln himself was constructed on an entirely different foundation. His
base was plain common sense, direct statement, and the inflexibility of
logic. In physical make-up he was cold--at least not magnetic--and
made no effort to dazzle people by his bearing. He cared nothing for
a following, and though he had often before struggled for a political
prize, yet in his efforts he never had strained his well-known spirit of
fairness or open love of the truth. He analyzed everything, laid every
statement bare, and by dint of his broad reasoning powers and
manliness of admission inspired his hearers with deep conviction of his
earnestness and honesty. Douglas may have electrified the crowds with
his eloquence or charmed them with his majestic bearing and dexterity in
debate, but as each man, after the meetings were over and the applause
had died away, went to his home, his head rang with Lincoln's logic and
appeal to manhood.

A brief description of Mr. Lincoln's appearance on the stump and of his
manner when speaking may not be without interest. When standing erect
he was six feet four inches high. He was lean in flesh and ungainly in
figure. Aside from the sad, pained look due to habitual melancholy, his
face had no characteristic or fixed expression. He was thin through the
chest, and hence slightly stoop-shouldered. When he arose to address
courts, juries, or crowds of people, his body inclined forward to a
slight degree. At first he was very awkward, and it seemed a real labor
to adjust himself to his surroundings. He struggled for a time under a
feeling of apparent diffidence and sensitiveness, and these only added
to his awkwardness. I have often seen and sympathized with Mr. Lincoln
during these moments. When he began speaking, his voice was shrill,
piping, and unpleasant. His manner, his attitude, his dark, yellow
face, wrinkled and dry, his oddity of pose, his diffident
movements--everything seemed to be against him, but only for a short
time. After having arisen, he generally placed his hands behind him, the
back of his left hand in the palm of his right, the thumb and fingers
of his right hand clasped around the left arm at the wrist. For a few
moments he played the combination of awkwardness, sensitiveness, and
diffidence. As he proceeded he became somewhat animated, and to keep in
harmony with his growing warmth his hands relaxed their grasp and fell
to his side. Presently he clasped them in front of him, interlocking his
fingers, one thumb meanwhile chasing another. His speech now requiring
more emphatic utterance, his fingers unlocked and his hands fell apart.
His left arm was thrown behind, the back of his hand resting against
his body, his right hand seeking his side. By this time he had gained
sufficient composure, and his real speech began. He did not gesticulate
as much with his hands as with his head. He used the latter frequently,
throwing it with vim this way and that. This movement was a significant
one when he sought to enforce his statement. It sometimes came with
a quick jerk, as if throwing off electric sparks into combustible
material. He never sawed the air nor rent space into tatters and rags
as some orators do. He never acted for stage effect. He was cool,
considerate, reflective--in time self-possessed and self-reliant.
His style was clear, terse, and compact. In argument he was logical,
demonstrative, and fair. He was careless of his dress, and his clothes,
instead of fitting neatly as did the garments of Douglas on the latter's
well-rounded form, hung loosely on his giant frame. As he moved along
in his speech he became freer and less uneasy in his movements; to
that extent he was graceful. He had a perfect naturalness, a strong
individuality; and to that extent he was dignified. He despised glitter,
show, set forms, and shams. He spoke with effectiveness and to move the
judgment as well as the emotions of men. There was a world of meaning
and emphasis in the long, bony finger of his right hand as he dotted
the ideas on the minds of his hearers. Sometimes, to express joy or
pleasure, he would raise both hands at an angle of about fifty degrees,
the palms upward, as if desirous of embracing the spirit of that which
he loved. If the sentiment was one of detestation--denunciation of
slavery, for example--both arms, thrown upward and fists clenched, swept
through the air, and he expressed an execration that was truly sublime.
This was one of his most effective gestures, and signified most vividly
a fixed determination to drag down the object of his hatred and trample
it in the dust. He always stood squarely on his feet, toe even with toe;
that is, he never put one foot before the other. He neither touched nor
leaned on anything for support. He made but few changes in his positions
and attitudes. He never ranted, never walked backward and forward on
the platform. To ease his arms he frequently caught hold, with his left
hand, of the lapel of his coat, keeping his thumb upright and leaving
his right hand free to gesticulate. The designer of the monument
recently erected in Chicago has happily caught him in just this
attitude. As he proceeded with his speech the exercise of his vocal
organs altered somewhat the tone of his voice. It lost in a measure its
former acute and shrilling pitch, and mellowed into a more harmonious
and pleasant sound. His form expanded, and, notwithstanding the sunken
breast, he rose up a splendid and imposing figure. In his defence of
the Declaration of Independence--his greatest inspiration--he was
tremendous in the directness of his utterances; he rose to impassioned
eloquence, unsurpassed by Patrick Henry, Mirabeau, or Vergniaud, as his
soul was inspired with the thought of human right and Divine justice.*
His little gray eyes flashed in a face aglow with the fire of his
profound thoughts; and his uneasy movements and diffident manner sunk
themselves beneath the wave of righteous indignation that came sweeping
over him. Such was Lincoln the orator.

     * Horace White, who was present and reported the speech for
     his paper, the Chicago Tribune. Letter, June 9, 1865, MS.

We can somewhat appreciate the feeling with which Douglas, aggressive
and fearless though he was, welcomed a contest with such a man as
Lincoln. Four years before, in a joint debate with him, he had asked
for a cessation of forensic hostilities, conceding that his opponent
of rail-splitting fame had given him "more trouble than all the United
States Senate together." Now he was brought face to face with him

     * "Douglas and I, for the first time this canvass, crossed
     swords here yesterday. The fire flew some, and I am glad to
     know I am yet alive."--Lincoln to J. O. Cunningham, Ottawa,
     Ill., August 22, 1858, MS.

It is unnecessary and not in keeping with the purpose of this work to
reproduce here the speeches made by either Lincoln or Douglas in their
justly renowned debate. Briefly stated, Lincoln's position was announced
in his opening speech at Springfield: "'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 the one thing or the other. Either the opponents
of slavery will arrest the further 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
becomes alike lawful in all the states, old as well as new, North as
well as South." The position of Douglas on the question of slavery was
one of indifference. He advocated with all his power the doctrine of
"Popular Sovereignty," a proposition, as quaintly put by Lincoln, which
meant that, "if one man chooses to enslave another, no third man has a
right to object." At the last joint discussion in Alton, Lincoln, after
reflecting on the patriotism of any man who was so indifferent to the
wrong of slavery that he cared not whether it was voted up or down,
closed his speech with this stirring summary: "That [slavery] is the
real issue. That is the issue that will continue in this country when
these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. It
is the eternal struggle between these two principles--right and
wrong--throughout the world. They are the two principles that have
stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue
to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity, and the other the
divine right of kings. It is the same principle, in whatever shape it
develops itself. It is the same spirit that says: 'You work and toil
and earn bread, and I eat it.' No matter in what shape it comes, whether
from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own
nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men
as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical

It is unnecessary, I presume, to insert here the seven questions which
Douglas propounded to Lincoln at their first meeting at Ottawa, nor the
historic four which Lincoln asked at Freeport. It only remains to say
that in answering Lincoln at

Freeport, Douglas accomplished his own political downfall. He was
swept entirely away from his former foundation, and even the glory of a
subsequent election to the Senate never restored him to it.

During the canvass Mr. Lincoln, in addition to the seven meetings
with Douglas, filled thirty-one appointments made by the State
Central Committee, besides speaking at many other times and places not
previously advertised. In his trips to and fro over the State, between
meetings, he would stop at Springfield sometimes, to consult with his
friends or to post himself up on questions that occurred during the
canvass. He kept me busy hunting up old speeches and gathering facts and
statistics at the State library. I made liberal clippings bearing in any
way on the questions of the hour from every newspaper I happened to see,
and kept him supplied with them; and on one or two occasions, in answer
to letters and telegrams, I sent books forward to him. He had a little
leather bound book, fastened in front with a clasp, in which he and I
both kept inserting newspaper slips and newspaper comments until the
canvass opened. In arranging for the joint meetings and managing the
crowds Douglas enjoyed one great advantage. He had been United
States Senator for several years, and had influential friends holding
comfortable government offices all over the State. These men were on
hand at every meeting, losing no opportunity to applaud lustily all the
points Douglas made and to lionize him in every conceivable way. The
ingeniously contrived display of their enthusiasm had a marked effect
on certain crowds--a fact of which Lincoln frequently complained to
his friends. One who accompanied him during the canvass* relates this:
"Lincoln and I were at the Centralia agricultural fair the day after the
debate at Jonesboro. Night came on and we were tired, having been on
the fair grounds all day. We were to go north on the Illinois Central
railroad. The train was due at midnight, and the depot was full of
people. I managed to get a chair for Lincoln in the office of the
superintendent of the railroad, but small politicians would intrude so
that he could scarcely get a moment's sleep. The train came and was
filled instantly. I got a seat near the door for Lincoln and myself.
He was worn out, and had to meet Douglas the next day at Charleston. An
empty car, called a saloon car, was hitched on to the rear of the
train and locked up. I asked the conductor, who knew Lincoln and myself
well,--we were both attorneys of the road,--if Lincoln could not ride
in that car; that he was exhausted and needed rest; but the conductor
refused. I afterwards got him in by a stratagem. At the same time George
B. McClellan in person was taking Douglas around in a special car and
special train; and that was the unjust treatment Lincoln got from
the Illinois Central railroad. Every interest of that road and every
employee was against Lincoln and for Douglas."

     * Henry C. Whitney, MS., July 21, 1865.

The heat and dust and bonfires of the campaign at last came to an end.
The election took place on the second of November, and while Lincoln
received of the popular vote a majority of over four thousand, yet the
returns from the legislative districts foreshadowed his defeat. In fact,
when the Senatorial election took place in the Legislature, Douglas
received fifty-four and Lincoln forty-six votes--one of the results of
the lamentable apportionment law then in operation.*

     * Horace Greeley was one of the most vigilant men during the
     debate. He wrote to Lincoln and me many letters which I
     still retain. In a letter to me during the campaign, October
     6, he says with reference to Douglas: "In his present
     position I could not of course support him, but he need not
     have been in this position had the Republicans of Illinois
     been as wise and far-seeing as they are earnest and true....
     but seeing things are as they are, I do not wish to be
     quoted as authority for making trouble and division among
     our friends." Soon after hearing of the result of November
     election he again writes: "I advise you privately that Mr.
     Douglas would be the strongest candidate that the Democratic
     party could present for President; but they will not present
     him. The old leaders wouldn't endorse it. As he is doomed to
     be slaughtered at Charleston it is good policy to fatten him
     meantime. He will cut up the better at killing time." An
     inquiry for his preference as to Presidential timber
     elicited this response, December 4th. "As to President, my
     present judgment is Edward Bates, with John M. Read for
     Vice; but I am willing to go anything that looks strong. I
     don't wish to load the team heavier than it will pull
     through. As to Douglas, he is like the man's boy who (he
     said) 'didn't weigh so much as he expected, and he always
     knew he wouldn't.' I never thought him very sound coin; but
     I didn't think it best to beat him on the back of his anti-
     Lecompton fight, and I am still of that opinion."

The letters of Lincoln at this period are the best evidence of his
feelings now obtainable, and of how he accepted his defeat. To Henry
Asbury, a friend who had written him a cheerful letter admonishing him
not to give up the battle, he responded;

"Springfield, November 19, 1858.

"Mr. Henry Asbury,

"My Dear Sir:--Yours of the 13th was received some days ago. The fight
must go on. The cause of civil liberty must not be surrendered at the
end of one or even one hundred defeats. Douglas had the ingenuity to be
supported in the late contest both as the best means to break down and
to uphold the slave interest. No ingenuity can keep these antagonistic
elements in harmony long. Another explosion will soon come.

"Yours truly,

"A. Lincoln."

To another friend* on the same day he writes:

     * Dr. Henry.

"I am glad I made the late race. It gave me a hearing on the great and
durable questions of the age which I could have had in no other way; and
though I now sink out of view and shall be forgotten, I believe I have
made some marks which will tell for the cause of liberty long after I am
gone." Before passing to later events in Mr. Lincoln's life it is proper
to include in this chapter, as a specimen of his oratory at this time,
his eloquent reference to the Declaration of Independence found in a
speech delivered at Beardstown, August 12, and not at Lewiston five days
later, as many biographers have it. Aside from its concise reasoning,
the sublime thought it suggests entitles it to rank beside that great
masterpiece, his Gettysburg address. After alluding to the suppression
by the Fathers of the Republic of the slave trade, he says: "These by
their representatives in old Independence Hall said to the whole race of
men: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created
equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable
rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of
happiness.' This was their majestic interpretation of the economy of the
universe. This was their lofty, and wise, and noble understanding of
the justice of the Creator to his creatures--yes, gentlemen, to all
his creatures, to the whole great family of man. In their enlightened
belief, nothing stamped with the divine image and likeness was sent into
the world to be trodden on and degraded and imbruted by its fellows.
They grasped not only the whole race of man then living, but they
reached forward and seized upon the farthest posterity. They erected a
beacon to guide their children, and their children's children, and
the countless myriads who should inhabit the earth in other ages. Wise
statesmen as they were, they knew the tendency of prosperity to breed
tyrants, and so they established these great self-evident truths, that
when in the distant future some man, some faction, some interest, should
set up the doctrine that none but rich men, none but white men, or
none but Anglo-Saxon white men were entitled to life, liberty, and
the pursuit of happiness, their posterity might look up again to the
Declaration of Independence and take courage to renew the battle which
their fathers began, so that truth and justice and mercy and all the
humane and Christian virtues might not be extinguished from the land;
so that no man would hereafter dare to limit and circumscribe the great
principles on which the temple of liberty was being built.

"Now, my countrymen, if you have been taught doctrines conflicting with
the great landmarks of the Declaration of Independence; if you have
listened to suggestions which would take away from its grandeur and
mutilate the fair symmetry of its proportions; if you have been inclined
to believe that all men are not created equal in those inalienable
rights enumerated by our chart of liberty: let me entreat you to come
back. Return to the fountain whose waters spring close by the blood of
the Revolution. Think nothing of me; take no thought for the political
fate of any man whomsoever, but come back to the truths that are in the
Declaration of Independence. You may do anything with me you choose, if
you will but heed these sacred principles. You may not only defeat
me for the Senate, but you may take me and put me to death. While
pretending no indifference to earthly honors, I do claim to be actuated
in this contest by something higher than an anxiety for office. I
charge you to drop every paltry and insignificant thought for any man's
success. It is nothing; I am nothing; Judge Douglas is nothing. But
do not destroy that immortal emblem of humanity--the Declaration of
American Independence."

One of the newspaper men* who heard this majestic oration wrote me as

     * Horace White, MS., May 17, 1865.

"The apostrophe to the Declaration of Independence to which you refer
was written by myself from a vivid recollection of Mr. Lincoln's speech
at Beardstown, August 12, 1858. On the day following the delivery of the
speech, as Mr. Lincoln and I were proceeding by steamer from Beardstown
to Havana, I said to him that I had been greatly impressed by his
concluding remarks of the day previous, and that if he would write them
out for me I felt confident their publication would be highly beneficial
to our cause as well as honorable to his own fame. He replied that he
had but a faint recollection of any portion of the speech; that, like
all his campaign speeches, it was necessarily extemporaneous; and that
its good or bad effect depended upon the inspiration of the moment.
He added that I had probably overestimated the value of the remarks
referred to. In reply to my question whether he had any objection to my
writing them out from memory and putting them in the form of a verbatim
report, he said, 'None at all.' I accordingly did so. I felt confident
then and I feel equally assured now that I transcribed the peroration
with absolute fidelity as to ideas and commendable fidelity as to
language. I certainly aimed to reproduce his exact words, and my
recollection of the passage as spoken was very clear. After I had
finished writing I read it to Mr. Lincoln. When I had finished the
reading he said, 'Well, those are my views, and if I said anything on
the subject I must have said substantially that, but not nearly so well
as that is said.' I remember this remark quite distinctly, and if the
old steamer _Editor_ is still in existence I could show the place
where we were sitting. Having secured his assent to the publication I
forwarded it to our paper, but inasmuch as my report of the Beardstown
meeting had been already mailed I incorporated the remarks on the
Declaration of Independence in my letter from Lewiston two or three days
subsequently.... I do not remember ever having related these facts before,
although they have often recurred to me as I have seen the peroration
resuscitated again and again, and published (with good effect, I trust)
in the newspapers of this country and England."


The importance of a more accurate and elaborate history of the debate
between Lincoln and Douglas has induced Mr. Weik and me to secure,
for publication in these pages, the account by Horace White, of this
world-renowned forensic contest. Mr. White's means of knowledge, as
fully set forth in the article, are exceptional, and his treatment of
the subject is not less entertaining than truthful. It is certainly a
great contribution to history and we insert it without further comment:

"It was my good fortune to accompany Mr. Lincoln during his political
campaign against Senator Douglas in 1858, not only at the joint debates
but also at most of the smaller meetings where his competitor was not
present. We traveled together many thousands of miles. I was in the
employ of the _Chicago Tribune_, then called the _Press and Tribune_.
Senator Douglas had entered upon his campaign with two short-hand
reporters, James B. Sheridan and Henry Binmore, whose duty it was to
'write it up' in the columns of the Chicago Times. The necessity of
counteracting or matching that force became apparent very soon, and I
was chosen to write up Mr. Lincoln's campaign.

"I was not a short-hand reporter. The verbatim reporting for the Chicago
Tribune in the joint debates was done by Mr. Robert R. Hitt, late
Assistant Secretary of State, and the present Representative in Congress
from the 6th District of Illinois. Verbatim reporting was a new feature
in journalism in Chicago, and Mr. Hitt was the pioneer thereof. The
publication of Senator Douglas's opening speech in that campaign,
delivered on the evening of July 9th, by the Tribune the next morning,
was a feat hitherto unexampled in the West, and most mortifying to the
Democratic newspaper, the _Times_, and to Sheridan and Binmore, who,
after taking down the speech as carefully as Mr. Hitt had done, had gone
to bed intending to write it out next day, as was then customary.

"All of the seven joint debates were reported by Mr. Hitt for the
_Tribune_, the manuscript passing through my hands before going to the
printers, but no changes were made by me except in a few cases where
confusion on the platform; or the blowing of the wind, had caused some
slight hiatus or evident mistake in catching the speaker's words. I
could not resist the temptation to _italicise_ a few passages in Mr.
Lincoln's speeches, where his manner of delivery had been especially

"The volume containing the debates, published in 1860 by Follett,
Foster & Co., of Columbus, Ohio, presents Mr. Lincoln's speeches as they
appeared in the Chicago _Tribune_, and Mr. Douglas's as they appeared
in the Chicago _Times_. Of course, the speeches of both were published
simultaneously in both papers. The Chicago _Times_' reports of Mr.
Lincoln's speeches were not at all satisfactory to Mr. Lincoln's
friends, and this led to a charge that they were purposely mutilated
in order to give his competitor a more scholarly appearance before the
public--a charge indignantly denied by Sheridan and Binmore. There was
really no foundation for this charge. Of course, Sheridan and Binmore
took more pains with Mr. Douglas's speeches than with those of his
opponent. That was their business. It was what they were paid for, and
what they were expected to do. The debates were all held in the open
air, on rude platforms hastily put together, shaky, and overcrowded
with people. The reporters' tables were liable to be jostled and their
manuscript agitated by the wind. Some gaps were certain to occur in the
reporters' notes and these, when occurring in Mr. Douglas's speeches,
would certainly be straightened out by his own reporters, who would feel
no such responsibility for the rough places in Mr. Lincoln's. Then it
must be added that there were fewer involved sentences in Mr. Douglas's
_extempore_ speeches than in Mr. Lincoln's. Douglas was the more
practiced and more polished speaker of the two, and it was easier for a
reporter to follow him. All his sentences were round and perfect in his
mind before he opened his lips. This was not always the case with Mr.

"My acquaintance with Mr. Lincoln began four years before the campaign
of which I am writing, in October, 1854. I was then in the employ of the
Chicago _Evening Journal_. I had been sent to Springfield to report the
political doings of State Fair week for that newspaper. Thus it came
about that I occupied a front seat in the Representatives' Hall, in the
old State House, when Mr. Lincoln delivered the speech already described
in this volume. The impression made upon me by the orator was quite

"I had not heard much political speaking up to that time. I have heard
a great deal since. I have never heard anything since, either by Mr.
Lincoln, or by anybody, that I would put on a higher plane of oratory.
All the strings that play upon the human heart and understanding were
touched with masterly skill and force, while beyond and above all skill
was the overwhelming conviction pressed upon the audience that the
speaker himself was charged with an irresistible and inspiring duty to
his fellow men. This conscientious impulse drove his arguments through
the heads of his hearers down into their bosoms, where they made
everlasting lodgment. I had been nurtured in the Abolitionist faith,
and was much more radical than Mr. Lincoln himself on any point where
slavery was concerned, yet it seemed to me, when this speech was
finished, as though I had had a very feeble conception of the wickedness
of the Kansas-Nebraska Bill. I was filled, as never before, with
the sense of my own duty and responsibility as a citizen toward the
aggressions of the slave power.

"Having, 'since then, heard all the great public speakers of this
country subsequent to the period of Clay and Webster, I award the palm
to Mr. Lincoln as the one who, although not first in all respects, would
bring more men, of doubtful or hostile leanings, around to his way of
thinking by talking to them on a platform, than any other.

"Although I heard him many times afterward I shall longest remember him
as I then saw the tall, angular form with the long, angular arms, at
times bent nearly double with excitement, like a large flail animating
two smaller ones, the mobile face wet with perspiration which he
discharged in drops as he threw his head this way and that like a
projectile--not a graceful figure, yet not an ungraceful one. After
listening to him a few minutes, when he had got well warmed with his
subject, nobody would mind whether he was graceful or not. All thought
of grace or form would be lost in the exceeding attractiveness of what
he was saying.

"Returning to the campaign of 1858--I was sent by my employers to
Springfield to attend the Republican State Convention of that year.
Again I sat at a short distance from Mr. Lincoln when he delivered the
'house-divided-against-itself' speech, on the 17th of June. This was
delivered from manuscript, and was the only one I ever heard him deliver
in that way. When it was concluded he put the manuscript in my hands and
asked me to go to the _State Journal_ office and read the proof of it.
I think it had already been set in type. Before I had finished this task
Mr. Lincoln himself came into the composing room of the _State Journal_
and looked over the revised proofs. He said to me that he had taken a
great deal of pains with this speech, and that he wanted it to go before
the people just as he had prepared it. He added that some of his friends
had scolded him a good deal about the opening paragraph and 'the house
divided against itself,' and wanted him to change it or leave it out
altogether, but that he believed he had studied this subject more deeply
than they had, and that he was going to stick to that text whatever

"On the 9th of July, Senator Douglas returned to Chicago from Washington
City. He had stopped a few days at Cleveland, Ohio, to allow his friends
to arrange a grand _entrée_ for him. It was arranged that he should
arrive about eight o'clock in the evening by the Michigan Central
Railway, whose station was at the foot of Lake street, in which street
the principal hotel, the Tremont House, was situated, and that he should
be driven in a carriage drawn by six horses to the hotel, where
he should make his first speech of the campaign. To carry out this
arrangement it was necessary that he should leave the Michigan Southern
Railway at Laporte and go to Michigan City, at which place the Chicago
committee of reception took him in charge. It was noted by the Chicago
_Times_ that some malicious person at Michigan City had secretly spiked
the only cannon in the town, so that the Douglas men were obliged to use
an anvil on the occasion.

"When Mr. Douglas and his train arrived at the Lake street station, the
crowd along the street to the hotel, four or five blocks distant, was
dense, and, for the Chicago of that day, tremendous. It was with great
difficulty that the six-horse team got through it at all. Banners, bands
of music, cannon and fireworks added their various inspiration to the
scene. About nine o'clock Mr. Douglas made his appearance on a balcony
on the Lake street side of the hotel and made his speech. Mr. Lincoln
sat in a chair just inside the house, very near the speaker, and was an
attentive listener.

"Mr. Douglas's manner on this occasion was courtly and conciliatory. His
argument was plausible but worthless--being, for the most part, a
rehash of his 'popular sovereignty' dogma; nevertheless, he made a good
impression. He could make more out of a bad case, I think, than any
other man this country has ever produced, and I hope the country will
never produce his like again in this particular. If his fate had been
cast in the French Revolution, he would have out-demagogued the whole
lot of them. I consider the use he made of this chip called popular
sovereignty, riding upon it safely through some of the stormiest
years in our history, and having nothing else to ride upon, a feat of
dexterity akin to genius. But mere dexterity would not alone have borne
him along his pathway in life. He had dauntless courage, unwearied
energy, engaging manners, boundless ambition, unsurpassed powers of
debate, and strong personal magnetism. Among the Democrats of the North
his ascendency was unquestioned and his power almost absolute. He was
exactly fitted to hew his way to the Presidency, and he would have done
so infallibly if he had not made the mistake of coquetting with slavery.
This was a mistake due to the absence of moral principle. If he had been
as true to freedom as Lincoln was he would have distanced Lincoln in
the race. It was, in fact, no easy task to prevent the Republicans from
flocking after him in 1858, when he had, for once only, sided with them,
in reference to the Lecompton Constitution. There are some reasons
for believing that Douglas would have separated himself from the
slave-holders entirely after the Lecompton fight, if he had thought that
the Republicans would join in re-electing him to the Senate. Yet the
position taken by the party in Illinois was perfectly sound. Douglas was
too slippery to make a bargain with. He afterward redeemed himself in
the eyes of his opponents by an immense service to the Union, which no
other man could have rendered; but, up to this time, there was nothing
for anti slavery men to do but to beat him if they could.

"I will add here that I had no personal acquaintance with Mr. Douglas,
although my opportunities for meeting him were frequent. I regarded him
as the most dangerous enemy of liberty, and, therefore, as my enemy.
I did not want to know him. Accordingly, one day when Mr. Sheridan
courteously offered to present me to his chief, I declined without
giving any reason. Of course, this was a mistake; but, at the age of
twenty-four, I took my politics very seriously. I thought that all the
work of saving the country had to be done then and there. I have since
learned to leave something to time and Providence.

"Mr. Lincoln's individual campaign began at Beardstown, Cass county,
August 12th. Douglas had been there the previous day, and I had heard
him. His speech had consisted mainly of tedious repetitions of 'popular
sovereignty,' but he had taken occasion to notice Lincoln's conspiracy
charge, and had called it 'an infamous lie.' He had also alluded to
Senator Trumbull's charge that he (Douglas) had, two years earlier, been
engaged in a plot to force a bogus constitution on the people of Kansas
without giving them an opportunity to vote upon it. 'The miserable,
craven-hearted wretch,' said Douglas, 'he would rather have both ears
cut off than to use that language in my presence, where I could call him
to account.' Before entering upon this subject, Douglas turned to his
reporters and said 'Take this down.' They did so and it was published a
few days later in the St. Louis Republican. This incident furnished
the text of the Charleston joint debate on the 18th of September.

"Mr. Douglas's meeting at Beardstown was large and enthusiastic, but was
composed of a lower social stratum than the Republican meeting of the
following day. Mr. Lincoln came up the Illinois River from the town of
Naples in the steamer _Sam Gaty_. Cass county and the surrounding region
was by no means hopeful Republican ground. Yet Mr. Lincoln's friends
mustered forty horsemen and two bands of music, beside a long procession
on foot to meet him at the landing. Schuyler county sent a delegation of
three hundred, and Morgan county was well represented. These were mostly
Old Line Whigs who had followed Lincoln in earlier days. Mr. Lincoln's
speech at Beardstown was one of the best he ever made in my hearing, and
was not a repetition of any other. In fact, he never repeated himself
except when some remark or question from the audience led him back upon
a subject that he had already discussed. Many times did I marvel to see
him get on a platform at some out-of-the-way place and begin an entirely
new speech, equal, in all respects, to any of the joint debates, and
continue for two hours in a high strain of argumentative power and
eloquence, without saying anything that I had heard before. After the
Edwardsville meeting I said to him that it was wonderful to me that he
could find new things to say everywhere, while Douglas was parroting his
popular sovereignty speech at every place. He replied that Douglas was
not lacking in versatility, but that he had a theory that the popular
sovereignty speech was the one to win on, and that the audiences whom he
addressed would hear it only once and would never know whether he made
the same speech elsewhere or not, and would never care. Most likely, if
their attention were called to the subject, they would think that was
the proper thing to do. As for himself, he said that he could not
repeat to-day what he had said yesterday. The subject kept enlarging and
widening in his mind as he went on, and it was much easier to make a new
speech than to repeat an old one.

"It was at Beardstown that Mr. Lincoln uttered the glowing words
that have come to be known as the apostrophe to the Declaration of
Independence, the circumstances attending which are narrated in another
part of this book. Probably the apostrophe, as printed, is a trifle more
florid than as delivered, and, therefore, less forcible.

"The following passage, from the Beardstown speech, was taken down by
me on the platform by long-hand notes and written out immediately


"'I made a speech in June last in which I pointed out, briefly and
consecutively, a series of public measures leading directly to the
nationalization of slavery--the spreading of that institution over all
the Territories and all the States, old as well as new, North as well as
South. I enumerated the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, which, every
candid man must acknowledge, conferred upon emigrants to Kansas and
Nebraska the right to carry slaves there and hold them in bondage,
whereas formerly they had no such right; I alluded to the events which
followed that repeal, events in which Judge Douglas's name figures quite
prominently; I referred to the Dred Scott decision and the extraordinary
means taken to prepare the public mind for that decision; the efforts
put forth by President Pierce to make the people believe that, in the
election of James Buchanan, they had endorsed the doctrine that slavery
may exist in the free Territories of the Union--the earnest exhortation
put forth by President Buchanan to the people to stick to that decision
whatever it might be--the close-fitting niche in the Nebraska bill,
wherein the right of the people to govern themselves is made 'subject to
the constitution of the United States'--the extraordinary haste made
by Judge Douglas to give this decision an endorsement at the capitol of
Illinois. I alluded to other concurring circumstances, which I need not
repeat now, and I said that, though I could not open the bosoms of men
and find out their secret motives, yet, when I found the framework of
a barn, or a bridge, or any other structure, built by a number of
carpenters--Stephen and Franklin and Roger and James--and so built that
each tenon had its proper mortice, and the whole forming a symmetrical
piece of workmanship, I should say that those carpenters all worked on
an intelligible plan, and understood each other from the beginning.
This embraced the main argument in my speech before the Republican State
Convention in June. Judge Douglas received a copy of my speech some two
weeks before his return to Illinois. He had ample time to examine and
reply to it if he chose to do so. He did examine and he did reply to it,
but he wholly overlooked the body of my argument, and said nothing
about the 'conspiracy charge,' as he terms it. He made his speech up of
complaints against our tendencies to negro equality and amalgamation.
Well, seeing that Douglas had had the process served on him, that he had
taken notice of the process, that he had come into court and pleaded
to a part of the complaint, but had ignored the main issue, I took
a default on him. I held that he had no plea to make to the general
charge. So when I was called on to reply to him, twenty-four hours
afterward, I renewed the charge as explicitly as I could. My speech was
reported and published on the following morning, and, of course, Judge
Douglas saw it. He went from Chicago to Bloomington and there made
another and longer speech, and yet took no notice of the 'conspiracy
charge.' He then went to Springfield and made another elaborate
argument, but was not prevailed upon to know anything about the
outstanding indictment. I made another speech at Springfield, this
time taking it for granted that Judge Douglas was satisfied to take his
chances in the campaign with the imputation of the conspiracy hanging
over him. It was not until he went into a small town, Clinton, in De
Witt county, where he delivered his fourth or fifth regular speech, that
he found it convenient to notice this matter at all. At that place
(I was standing in the crowd when he made his speech ), he bethought
himself that he was charged with something, and his reply was that his
'self-respect alone prevented him from calling it a falsehood.' Well,
my friends, perhaps he so far lost his self-respect in Beardstown as to
actually call it a falsehood.

"'But now I have this reply to make: that while the Nebraska bill was
pending, Judge Douglas helped to vote down a clause giving the people of
the Territories the right to exclude slavery if they chose; that neither
while the bill was pending, nor at any other time, would he give his
opinion whether the people had the right to exclude slavery, though
respectfully asked; that he made a report, which I hold in my hand, from
the Committee on Territories, in which he said the rights of the people
of the Territories, in this regard, are 'held in abeyance,' and cannot
be immediately exercised; that the Dred Scott decision expressly denies
any such right, but declares that neither Congress nor the Territorial
Legislature can keep slavery out of Kansas and that Judge Douglas
endorses that decision. All these charges are new; that is, I did not
make them in my original speech. They are additional and cumulative
testimony. I bring them forward now and dare Judge Douglas to deny one
of them. Let him do so and I will prove them by such testimony as shall
confound him forever. I say to you, that it would be more to the purpose
for Judge Douglas to say that he did not repeal the Missouri Compromise;
that he did not make slavery possible where it was impossible before;
that he did not leave a niche in the Nebraska bill for the Dred Scott
decision to rest in; that he did not vote down a clause giving the
people the right to exclude slavery if they wanted to; that he did not
refuse to give his individual opinion whether a Territorial Legislature
could exclude slavery; that he did not make a report to the Senate, in
which he said that the rights of the people, in this regard, were held
in abeyance and could not be immediately exercised; that he did not make
a hasty endorsement of the Dred Scott decision over at Springfield;*
that he does not now endorse that decision; that that decision does not
take away from the Territorial Legislature the right to exclude slavery;
and that he did not, in the original Nebraska bill, so couple the words
State and Territory together that what the Supreme Court has done in
forcing open all the Territories to slavery it may yet do in forcing
open all the States. I say it would be vastly more to the point for
Judge Douglas to say that he did not do some of these things; that he
did not forge some of these links of testimony, than to go vociferating
about the country that possibly he may hint that somebody is a liar.'

     * This refers to Douglas's speech of June 12, 1857.

"The next morning, August 13th, we boarded the steamer _Editor_ and went
to Havana, Mason county. Mr. Lincoln was in excellent spirits. Several
of his old Whig friends were on board, and the journey was filled up
with politics and story-telling. In the latter branch of human affairs,
Mr. Lincoln was most highly gifted. From the beginning to the end of our
travels the fund of anecdotes never failed, and, wherever we happened to
be, all the people within ear-shot would begin to work their way up
to this inimitable storyteller. His stories were always _apropos_ of
something going on, and oftenest related to things that had happened in
his own neighborhood. He was constantly being reminded of one, and, when
he told it, his facial expression was so irresistibly comic that the
bystanders generally exploded in laughter before he reached what he
called the 'nub' of it. Although the intervals between the meetings
were filled up brimful with mirth in this way, Mr. Lincoln indulged very
sparingly in humor in his speeches. I asked him one day why he did not
oftener turn the laugh on Douglas. He replied that he was too much in
earnest, and that it was doubtful whether turning the laugh on anybody
really gained any votes.

"We arrived at Havana while Douglas was still speaking. The deputation
that met Mr. Lincoln at the landing suggested that he should go up
to the grove where the Democratic meeting was going on and hear what
Douglas was saying. But he declined to do so, saying: 'The Judge was
so put out by my listening to him at Bloomington and Clinton that I
promised to leave him alone at his own meetings for the rest of the
campaign. I understand that he is calling Trumbull and myself liars, and
if he should see me in the crowd he might be so ashamed of himself as
to omit the most telling part of his argument.' I strolled up to the
Douglas meeting just before its conclusion, and there met a friend who
had heard the whole. He was in a state of high indignation. He said
that Douglas must certainly have been drinking before he came on the
platform, because he had called Lincoln 'a liar, a coward, a wretch and
a sneak.'

"When Mr. Lincoln replied, on the following day, he took notice of
Douglas's hard words in this way:

"I am informed that my distinguished friend yesterday became a little
excited, nervous (?) perhaps, and that he said something about fighting,
as though looking to a personal encounter between himself and me. Did
anybody in this audience hear him use such language? (Yes, Yes.) I am
informed, further, that somebody in his audience, rather more excited or
nervous than himself, took off his coat and offered to take the job
off Judge Douglas's hands and fight Lincoln himself. Did anybody here
witness that warlike proceeding? (Laughter and cries of 'yes.') Well,
I merely desire to say that I shall fight neither Judge Douglas nor his
second. I shall not do this for two reasons, which I will explain. In
the first place a fight would prove nothing which is in issue in this
election. It might establish that Judge Douglas is a more muscular man
than myself, or it might show that I am a more muscular man than Judge
Douglas. But this subject is not referred to in the Cincinnati platform,
nor in either of the Springfield platforms. Neither result would prove
him right or me wrong. And so of the gentleman who offered to do his
fighting for him. If my fighting Judge Douglas would not prove
any thing, it would certainly prove nothing for me to fight his
bottle-holder. My second reason for not having a personal encounter with
Judge Douglas is that I don't believe he wants it himself. He and I are
about the best friends in the world, and when we get together he would
no more think of fighting me than of fighting his wife. Therefore,
when the Judge talked about fighting he was not giving vent to any
ill-feeling of his own, but was merely trying to excite--well, let us
say enthusiasm against me on the part of his audience. And, as I find he
was tolerably successful in this, we will call it quits.'

"At Havana I saw Mrs. Douglas (_née_ Cutts) standing with a group of
ladies a short distance from the platform on which her husband was
speaking, and I thought I had never seen a more queenly face and figure.
I saw her frequently afterward in this campaign, but never personally
met her till many years later, when she had become the wife of General
Williams of the regular army, and the mother of children who promised
to be as beautiful as herself. There is no doubt in my mind that this
attractive presence was very helpful to Judge Douglas in the campaign.
It is certain that the Republicans considered her a dangerous element.

"From Havana we went to Lewistown and thence to Peoria, still following
on the heels of the Little Giant, but nothing of special interest
happened at either place. As we came northward Mr. Lincoln's meetings
grew in size, but at Lewistown the Douglas gathering was much the larger
of the two and was the most considerable in point of numbers I had yet

"The next stage brought us to Ottawa, the first joint debate, August
21st. Here the crowd was enormous. The weather had been very dry and
the town was shrouded in dust raised by the moving populace. Crowds were
pouring into town from sunrise till noon in all sorts of conveyances,
teams, railroad trains, canal boats, cavalcades, and processions on
foot, with banners and inscriptions, stirring up such clouds of dust
that it was hard to make out what was underneath them. The town was
covered with bunting, and bands of music were tooting around every
corner, drowned now and then by the roar of cannon. Mr. Lincoln came by
railroad and Mr. Douglas by carriage from La Salle. A train of seventeen
passenger cars from Chicago attested the interest felt in that city in
the first meeting of the champions. Two great processions escorted them
to the platform in the public square. But the eagerness to hear the
speaking was so great that the crowd had taken possession of the square
and the platform, and had climbed on the wooden awning overhead, to such
an extent that the speakers and the committees and reporters could not
get to their places. Half an hour was consumed in a rough-and-tumble
skirmish to make way for them, and, when finally this was accomplished,
a section of the awning gave way with its load of men and boys, and
came down on the heads of the Douglas committee of reception. But,
fortunately, nobody was hurt.

"Here I was joined by Mr. Hitt and also by Mr. Chester P. Dewey of
the New York _Evening Post_, who remained with us until the end of the
campaign. Hither, also, came quite an army of young newspaper men, among
whom was Henry Villard, in behalf of Forney's Philadelphia Press. I have
preserved Mr. Dewey's sketch of the two orators as they appeared on the
Ottawa platform, and I introduce it here as a graphic description by a
new hand:

"'Two men presenting wider contrasts could hardly be found, as the
representatives of the two great parties. Everybody knows Douglas, a
short, thick-set, burly man, with large, round head, heavy hair, dark
complexion, and fierce, bull-dog look. Strong in his own real power, and
skilled by a thousand conflicts in all the strategy of a hand-to-hand or
a general fight; of towering ambition, restless in his determined
desire for notoriety, proud, defiant, arrogant, audacious, unscrupulous,
'Little Dug' ascended the platform and looked out impudently and
carelessly on the immense throng which surged and struggled before him.
A native of Vermont, reared on a soil where no slave stood, he came
to Illinois a teacher, and from one post to another had risen to his
present eminence. Forgetful of the ancestral hatred of slavery to which
he was the heir, he had come to be a holder of slaves, and to owe much
of his fame to continued subservience to Southern influence.

"'The other--Lincoln--is a native of Kentucky, of poor white parentage,
and, from his cradle, has felt the blighting influence of the dark and
cruel shadow which rendered labor dishonorable and kept the poor in
poverty, while it advanced the rich in their possessions. Reared in
poverty, and to the humblest aspirations, he left his native State,
crossed the line into Illinois, and began his career of honorable
toil. At first a laborer, splitting rails for a living--deficient in
education, and applying himself even to the rudiments of knowledge--he,
too, felt the expanding power of his American manhood, and began to
achieve the greatness to which he has succeeded. With great difficulty,
struggling through the tedious formularies of legal lore, he was
admitted to the bar, and rapidly made his way to the front ranks of
his profession. Honored by the people with office, he is still the same
honest and reliable man. He volunteers in the Black Hawk war, and does
the State good service in its sorest need. In every relation of life,
socially and to the State, Mr. Lincoln has been always the pure and
honest man. In physique he is the opposite to Douglas. Built on the
Kentucky type, he is very tall, slender and angular, awkward even
in gait and attitude. His face is sharp, large-featured and
unprepossessing. His eyes are deep-set under heavy brows, his forehead
is high and retreating, and his hair is dark and heavy. In repose, I
must confess that 'Long Abe's' appearance is not comely. But stir him
up and the fire of his genius plays on every feature. His eye glows
and sparkles; every lineament, now so ill-formed, grows brilliant and
expressive, and you have before you a man of rare power and of strong
magnetic influence. He _takes_ the people every time, and there is no
getting away from his sturdy good sense, his unaffected sincerity and
the unceasing play of his good humor, which accompanies his close logic
and smoothes the way to conviction. Listening to him on Saturday,
calmly and unprejudiced, I was convinced that he had no superior as
a stump-speaker. He is clear, concise and logical, his language is
eloquent and at perfect command. He is altogether a more fluent speaker
than Douglas, and in all the arts of debate fully his equal. The
Republicans of Illinois have chosen a champion worthy of their heartiest
support, and fully equipped for the conflict with the great Squatter

"One trifling error of fact will be noticed by the readers of these
volumes in Mr. Dewey's sketch. It relates to Douglas, and it is proper
to correct it here. Mr. Douglas was never a slave-holder. As a trustee
or guardian, he held a plantation in Louisiana with the slaves thereon,
which had belonged to Col. Robert Martin, of North Carolina, the
maternal grandfather of his two sons by his first marriage. It is a fact
that Douglas refused to accept this plantation and its belongings as a
gift to himself from Colonel Martin in the life-time of the latter. It
was characteristic of him that he declined to be an owner of slaves, not
because he sympathized with the Abolitionists, but because, as he said
once in a debate with Senator Wade, 'being a Northern man by birth, by
education and residence, and intending always to remain such, it was
impossible for me to know, understand, and provide for the happiness of
those people.'

"At the conclusion of the Ottawa debate, a circumstance occurred which,
Mr. Lincoln said to me afterwards, was extremely mortifying to him.
Half a dozen Republicans, roused to a high pitch of enthusiasm for their
leader, seized him as he came down from the platform, hoisted him upon
their shoulders and marched off with him, singing the 'Star Spangled
Banner,' or 'Hail Columbia,' until they reached the place where he was
to spend the night. What use Douglas made of this incident, is known to
the readers of the joint debates. He said a few days later, at Joliet,
that Lincoln was so used up in the discussion that his knees trembled,
and he had to be carried from the platform, and he caused this to be
printed in the newspapers of his own party. Mr. Lincoln called him to
account for this fable at Jonesboro.

"The Ottawa debate gave great satisfaction to our side. Mr. Lincoln,
we thought, had the better of the argument, and we all came away
encouraged. But the Douglas men were encouraged also. In his concluding
half hour, Douglas spoke with great rapidity and animation, and yet with
perfect distinctness, and his supporters cheered him wildly.

"The next joint debate was to take place at Freeport, six days later. In
the interval, Mr. Lincoln addressed meetings at Henry, Marshall county;
Augusta, Hancock county, and Macomb, McDonough county. During this
interval he prepared the answers to the seven questions put to him by
Douglas at Ottawa, and wrote the four questions which he propounded to
Douglas at Freeport. The second of these, viz.: 'Can the people of a
United States Territory, in any lawful way, against the wish of any
citizen of the United States, exclude slavery from its limits prior
to the formation of a State Constitution?' was made the subject of a
conference between Mr. Lincoln and a number of his friends from Chicago,
among whom were Norman B. Judd and Dr. C. H. Ray, the latter the chief
editor of the Tribune. This conference took place at the town of Dixon.
I was not present, but Doctor Ray told me that all who were there
counseled Mr. Lincoln not to put that question to Douglas, because
he would answer it in the affirmative and thus probably secure his
re-election. It was their opinion that Lincoln should argue strongly
from the Dred Scott decision, which Douglas endorsed, that the people
of the Territories could not lawfully exclude slavery prior to the
formation of a State Constitution, but that he should not force Douglas
to say yes or no. They believed that the latter would let that subject
alone as much as possible in order not to offend the South, unless he
should be driven into a corner. Mr. Lincoln replied that to draw an
affirmative answer from Douglas on this question was exactly what he
wanted, and that his object was to make it impossible for Douglas to get
the vote of the Southern States in the next Presidential election. He
considered that fight much more important than the present one and he
would be willing to lose this in order to win that.*

     * Mr. Lincoln's words are given in Mr. Arnold's biography
     thus: "I am after larger game; the battle of 1860 is worth a
     hundred of this." Mr. Arnold's authority is not mentioned,
     but these are exactly the words that Doctor Ray repeated to

"The result justified Mr. Lincoln's prevision. Douglas did answer in the
affirmative. If he had answered in the negative he would have lost the
Senatorial election, and that would have ended his political career. He
took the chance of being able to make satisfactory explanations to the
slaveholders, but they would have nothing to do with him afterward.

"The crowd that assembled at Freeport on the 27th of August was even
larger than that at Ottawa. Hundreds of people came from Chicago and
many from the neighboring State of Wisconsin. Douglas came from Galena
the night before the debate, and was greeted with a great torch-light
procession. Lincoln came the following morning from Dixon, and was
received at the railway station by a dense crowd, filling up all the
adjacent streets, who shouted themselves hoarse when his tall form was
seen emerging from the train. Here, again, the people had seized upon
the platform, and all the approaches to it, an hour before the speaking
began, and a hand-to-hand fight took place to secure possession.

"After the debate was finished, we Republicans did not feel very
happy. We held the same opinion that Mr. Judd and Doctor Ray had--that
Douglas's answer had probably saved him from defeat. We did not look
forward, and we did not look South, and even if we had done so, we were
too much enlisted in this campaign to swap it for another one which
was two years distant. Mr. Lincoln's wisdom was soon vindicated by his
antagonist, one of whose earliest acts, after he returned to Washington
City, was to make a speech (February 23, 1859) defending himself against
attacks upon the 'Freeport heresy,'as the Southerners called it. In that
debate Jefferson Davis was particularly aggravating, and Douglas did not
reply to him with his usual spirit.

"It would draw this chapter out to unreasonable length, if I were to
give details of all the small meetings of this campaign. After the
Freeport joint debate, we went to Carlinville, Macoupin county, where
John M. Palmer divided the time with Mr. Lincoln. From this place we
went to Clinton, De Witt county, via Springfield and Decatur. During
this journey an incident occurred which gave unbounded mirth to Mr.
Lincoln at my expense.

"We left Springfield about nine o'clock in the evening for Decatur,
where we were to change cars and take the north-bound train on the
Illinois Central Railway. I was very tired and I curled myself up as
best I could on the seat to take a nap, asking Mr. Lincoln to wake me
up at Decatur, which he promised to do. I went to sleep, and when I
did awake I had the sensation of having been asleep a long time. It was
daylight and I knew that we should have reached Decatur before midnight.
Mr. Lincoln's seat was vacant. While I was pulling myself together, the
conductor opened the door of the car and shouted, 'State Line.' This
was the name of a shabby little town on the border of Indiana. There was
nothing to do but to get out and wait for the next train going back to
Decatur. About six o'clock in the evening I found my way to Clinton. The
meeting was over, of course, and the Chicago Tribune had lost its
expected report, and I was out of pocket for railroad fares. I wended my
way to the house of Mr. C. H. Moore, where Mr. Liacoin was staying, and
where I, too, had been an expected guest. When Mr. Lincoln saw me coming
up the garden path, his lungs began to crow like a chanticleer, and I
thought he would laugh, _sans_ intermission, an hour by his dial. He
paused long enough to say that he had fallen asleep, also, and did not
wake up till the train was starting _from_ Decatur. He had very nearly
been carried past the station himself, and, in his haste to get out, had
forgotten all about his promise to waken me. Then he began to laugh
again. The affair was so irresistibly funny, in his view, that he told
the incident several times in Washington City when I chanced to meet
him, after he became President, to any company who might be present, and
with such contagious drollery that all who heard it would shake with

"Our course took us next to Bloomington, McLean county; Monticello,
Piatt county, and Paris, Edgar county. At the last-mentioned place
(September 8th) we were joined by Owen Lovejoy, who had never been in
that part of the State before. The fame of Lovejoy as an Abolitionist
had preceded him, however, and the people gathered around him in a
curious and hesitating way, as though he were a witch who might suddenly
give them lock-jaw or bring murrain on their cattle, if he were much
provoked. Lovejoy saw this and was greatly amused by it, and when
he made a speech in the evening, Mr. Lincoln having made his in the
day-time, he invited the timid ones to come up and feel of his horns and
examine his cloven foot and his forked tail. Lovejoy was one of the most
effective orators of his time. After putting his audience in good humor
in this way, he made one of his impassioned speeches which never failed
to gain votes where human hearts were responsive to the wrongs of
slavery. Edgar county was in the Democratic list, but this year it gave
a Republican majority on the legislative and congressional tickets, and
I think Lovejoy's speech was largely accountable for the result.

"My notes of the Paris meeting embrace the following passage from Mr.
Lincoln's speech:


"'Let us inquire what Judge Douglas really invented when he introduced
the Nebraska Bill? He called it Popular Sovereignty. What does that
mean? It means the sovereignty of the people over their own affairs--in
other words, the right of the people to govern themselves. Did Judge
Douglas invent this? Not quite. The idea of Popular Sovereignty was
floating about several ages before the author of the Nebraska Bill was
born--indeed, before Columbus set foot on this continent. In the year
1776 it took form in the noble words which you are all familiar with:
'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created
equal,' etc. Was not this the origin of Popular Sovereignty as applied
to the American people? Here we are told that governments are instituted
among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
If that is not Popular Sovereignty, then I have no conception of the
meaning of words. If Judge Douglas did not invent this kind of Popular
Sovereignty, let us pursue the inquiry and find out what kind he did
invent. Was it the right of emigrants to Kansas and Nebraska to govern
themselves, and a lot of 'niggers,' too, if they wanted them? Clearly
this was no invention of his, because General Cass put forth the same
doctrine in 1848 in his so-called Nicholson letter, six years before
Douglas thought of such a thing. Then what was it that the 'Little
Giant' invented? It never occurred to General Cass to call his discovery
by the odd name of Popular Sovereignty. He had not the face to say that
the right of the people to govern 'niggers' was the right of the people
to govern themselves. His notions of the fitness of things were
not moulded to the brazenness of calling the right to put a hundred
'niggers' through under the lash in Nebraska a 'sacred right of
self-government.' And here, I submit to you, was Judge Douglas's
discovery, and the whole of it. He discovered that the right to breed
and flog negroes in Nebraska was Popular Sovereignty.'

"The next meetings in their order were Hillsboro, Montgomery county;
Greenville, Bond county, and Edwardsville, Madison county. At
Edwardsville (September 13th) I was greatly impressed with Mr. Lincoln's
speech, so much so, that I took down the following passages, which, as I
read them now, after the lapse of thirty-one years, bring back the whole
scene with vividness before me--the quiet autumn day in the quaint old
town; the serious people clustered around the platform; Joseph Gillespie
officiating as chairman, and the tall, gaunt, earnest man, whose high
destiny and tragic death were veiled from our eyes, appealing to his old
Whig friends, and seeking to lift them up to his own level:

"'I have been requested,' he said, 'to give a concise statement of
the difference, as I understand it, between the Democratic and the
Republican parties on the leading issues of the campaign. This question
has been put to me by a gentleman whom I do not know. I do not even know
whether he is a friend of mine or a supporter of Judge Douglas in this
contest, nor does that make any difference. His question is a proper
one. Lest I should forget it, I will give you my answer before
proceeding with the line of argument I have marked out for this

"'The difference between the Republican and the Democratic parties on
the leading issues of this contest, as I understand it, is that the
former consider slavery a moral, social and political wrong, while the
latter do not consider it either a moral, a social or a political wrong;
and the action of each, as respects the growth of the country and the
expansion of our population, is squared to meet these views. I will not
affirm that the Democratic party consider slavery morally, socially
and politically right, though their tendency to that view has, in my
opinion, been constant and unmistakable for the past five years. I
prefer to take, as the accepted maxim of the party, the idea put forth
by Judge Douglas, that he 'don't care whether slavery is voted down
or voted up.' I am quite willing to believe that many Democrats would
prefer that slavery should be always voted down, and I know that some
prefer that it be always 'voted up;' but I have a right to insist that
their action, especially if it be their constant action, shall determine
their ideas and preferences on this subject. Every measure of the
Democratic party of late years, bearing directly or indirectly on
the slavery question, has corresponded with this notion of utter
indifference, whether slavery or freedom shall outrun in the race of
empire across to the Pacific--every measure, I say, up to the Dred
Scott decision, where, it seems to me, the idea is boldly suggested that
slavery is better than freedom. The Republican party, on the contrary,
hold that this government was instituted to secure the blessings of
freedom, and that slavery is an unqualified evil to the negro, to the
white man, to the soil, and to the State. Regarding it as an evil, they
will not molest it in the States where it exists, they will not overlook
the constitutional guards which our fathers placed around it; they will
do nothing that can give proper offense to those who hold slaves by
legal sanction; but they will use every constitutional method to prevent
the evil from becoming larger and involving more negroes, more white
men, more soil, and more States in its deplorable consequences. They
will, if possible, place it where the public mind shall rest in the
belief that it is in course of ultimate peaceable extinction in God's
own good time. And to this end they will, if possible, restore the
government to the policy of the fathers--the policy of preserving the
new Territories from the baneful influence of human bondage, as the
northwestern Territories were sought to be preserved by the ordinance
of 1787, and the Compromise Act of 1820. They will oppose, in all its
length and breadth, the modern Democratic idea, that slavery is as good
as freedom, and ought to have room for expansion all over the continent,
if people can be found to carry it. All, or nearly all, of Judge
Douglas's arguments are logical, if you admit that slavery is as good
and as right as freedom, and not one of them is worth a rush if you deny
it. This is the difference, as I understand it, between the Republican
and Democratic parties....

"'My friends, I have endeavored to show you the logical consequences
of the Dred Scott decision, which holds that the people of a Territory
cannot prevent the establishment of slavery in their midst. I have
stated what cannot be gainsaid, that the grounds upon which this
decision is made are equally applicable to the free States as to the
free Territories, and that the peculiar reasons put forth by Judge
Douglas for endorsing this decision, commit him, in advance, to the next
decision and to all other decisions coming from the same source. And
when, by all these means, you have succeeded in dehumanizing the negro;
when you have put him down and made it impossible for him to be but as
the beasts of the field; when you have extinguished his soul in this
world and placed him where the ray of hope is blown out as in the
darkness of the damned, are you quite sure that the demon you have
roused will not turn and rend you? What constitutes the bulwark of our
own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our
bristling sea coasts, our army and our navy. These are not our reliance
against tyranny. All of those may be turned against us without making
us weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which
God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prizes liberty
as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this
spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors.
Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your
own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others,
you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit
subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you. And let me
tell you, that all these things are prepared for you by the teachings
of history, if the elections shall promise that the next Dred Scott
decision and all future decisions will be quietly acquiesced in by the

"From Edwardsville we went to the Jonesboro joint debate. The audience
here was small, not more than 1,000 or 1,500, and nearly all Democrats.
This was in the heart of Egypt. The country people came into the little
town with ox teams mostly, and a very stunted breed of oxen, too. Their
wagons were old-fashioned, and looked as though they were ready to fall
in pieces. A train with three or four carloads of Douglas men came up,
with Douglas himself, from Cairo. All who were present listened to the
debate with very close attention, and there was scarcely any cheering on
either side. Of course we did not expect any in that place. The reason
why Douglas did not get much, was that Union county was a stronghold
of the 'Danites,' or Buchanan Democrats. These were a pitiful minority
everywhere except in the two counties of Union and Bureau. The reason
for this peculiarity in the two counties named, must lie in the fact
that Union county was the home of the United States Marshal for the
Southern District, W. L. Dougherty; and Bureau, that of the Marshal for
the Northern District, Charles N. Pine. Evidently both these men worked
their offices for all they were worth, and the result would seem to show
that Marshalships are peculiarly well fitted to the purpose of turning
voters from their natural leanings. In Bureau county the 'Danites'
polled more votes than the Douglas Democrats. In Union, they divided the
party into two nearly equal parts. In no other county did they muster
a corporal's guard; James W. Sheahan, the editor of the Times, told me,
with great glee, after the election, that at one of the voting places in
Chicago, where the two Democratic judges of election were Irish, a few
'Danite' votes were offered, but that the judges refused to receive
them, saying gravely, 'We don't take that kind.' They thought it was
illegal voting.

"The only thing noteworthy that I recall at Jonesboro was not political
and not even terrestrial. It was the splendid appearance of Donati's
comet in the sky, the evening before the debate. Mr. Lincoln greatly
admired this strange visitor, and he and I sat for an hour or more in
front of the hotel looking at it.

"From Jonesboro we went to Centralia, where a great State Fair was
sprawling over the prairie, but there was no speaking there. It was not
good form to have political bouts at State Fairs, and I believe that the
managers had prohibited them. After one day at this place, where great
crowds clustered around both Lincoln and Douglas whenever they appeared
on the grounds, we went to Charleston, Coles county, September 18th,
where the fourth joint debate took place.

"This was a very remarkable gathering, the like of which we had not seen
elsewhere. It consisted of a great outpouring ( or rather inpouring ) of
the rural population, in their own conveyances. There was only one line
of railroad here, and only one special train on it. Yet, to my eye,
the crowd seemed larger than at either Ottawa or Freeport, in fact the
largest of the series, except the one at Galesburg, which came later.
The campaign was now at its height, the previous debates having stirred
the people into a real fever. 'It is astonishing,' said Mr. Dewey, in
his letter from Charleston to the _Evening Post_, 'how deep an interest
in politics this people take. Over long weary miles of hot, dusty
prairie, the processions of eager partisans come on foot, on horseback,
in wagons drawn by horses or mules; men, women and children, old and
young; the half-sick just out of the last 'shake,' children in arms,
infants at the maternal fount; pushing on in clouds of dust under a
blazing sun, settling down at the town where the meeting is, with hardly
a chance for sitting, and even less opportunity for eating, waiting in
anxious groups for hours at the places of speaking; talking, discussing,
litigious, vociferous, while the roar of artillery, the music of bands,
the waving of banners, the huzzas of the crowds, as delegation after
delegation appears; the cry of peddlers vending all sorts of wares, from
an infallible cure for 'agur' to a monster water-melon in slices to suit
purchasers--combine to render the occasion one scene of confusion and
commotion. The hour of one arrives, and a perfect rush is made for the
grounds; a column of dust rising to the heavens, and fairly deluging
those who are hurrying on through it. Then the speakers come, with flags
and banners and music, surrounded by cheering partisans. Their arrival
at the grounds and immediate approach to the stand, is the signal for
shouts that rend the heavens. They are introduced to the audience amid
prolonged and enthusiastic cheers, they are interrupted by frequent
applause and they sit down finally among the same uproarious
demonstrations. The audience sit or stand patiently, throughout, and, as
the last word is spoken, make a break for their homes, first hunting up
lost members of their families, gathering their scattered wagon loads
together, and, as the daylight fades away, entering again upon the broad
prairies and slowly picking their way back to the place of beginning.'

"Both Lincoln and Douglas left the train at Mattoon, distant some
ten miles from Charleston, to accept the escort of their respective
partisans. Mattoon was then a comparatively new place, a station on
the Illinois Central Railway peopled by Northern men. Nearly the whole
population of this town turned out to escort Mr. Lincoln along the
dusty highway to Charleston. In his procession was a chariot containing
thirty-two young ladies, representing the thirty-two States of the
Union, and carrying banners to designate the same. Following this, was
one young lady on horseback holding aloft a banner inscribed, 'Kansas--I
will be free.' As she was very good looking, we thought that she would
not remain free always. The muses had been wide awake also, for, on the
side of the chariot, was the stirring legend:

     'Westward the star of empire takes its way;
     The girls link-on to Lincoln, as their mothers did to Clay.'

"The Douglas procession was likewise a formidable one. He, too, had his
chariot of young ladies, and, in addition, a mounted escort. The two
processions stretched an almost interminable distance along the road,
and were marked by a moving cloud of dust.

"Before the Charleston debate, Mr. Lincoln had received (from Senator
Trumbull, I suppose) certain official documents to prove that Douglas
had attempted, in 1856, to bring Kansas into the Union without allowing
the people to vote upon her constitution, and with these he put the
Little Giant on the defensive, and pressed him so hard that we all
considered that our side had won a substantial victory.

"The Democrats seemed to be uneasy and dissatisfied, both during the
debate and afterward. Mr. Isaac N. Arnold, in his biography of Lincoln,
page 148, relates an incident in the Charleston debate on the authority
of 'a spectator' ( not named ), to this effect: that near the end of Mr.
Lincoln's closing speech, Douglas became very much excited and walked
rapidly up and down the platform behind Lincoln, holding a watch in his
hand; that the instant the watch showed the half hour, he called out
'Sit down! Lincoln, sit down! Your time is up.'

"This must be a pure invention. My notes show nothing of the kind. I sat
on the platform within ten feet of Douglas all the time that Lincoln was
speaking. If any such dramatic incident had occurred, I should certainly
have made a note of it, and even without notes I think I should have
remembered it. Douglas was too old a campaigner to betray himself in
this manner, whatever his feelings might have been.

"After the debate was ended and the country people had mostly dispersed,
the demand for speeches was still far from being satisfied. Two meetings
were started in the evening, with blazing bonfires in the street to
mark the places. Richard J. Oglesby, the Republican nominee for Congress
(afterward General, Governor and Senator ), addressed one of them.
At the Douglas meeting, Richard T. Merrick and U. F. Linder were the
speakers. Merrick was a young lawyer from Maryland, who had lately
settled in Chicago, and a fluent and rather captivating orator. Linder
was an Old Line Whig, of much natural ability, who had sided with
the Democrats on the break-up of his own party. Later in the campaign
Douglas wrote him a letter saying: 'For God's sake, Linder, come up
here and help me.' This letter got into the newspapers, and, as a
consequence, the receiver of it was immediately dubbed, 'For-God's-Sake
Linder,' by which name he was popularly know all the rest of his days.

"There was nothing of special interest between the Charleston debate and
that which took place at Galesburg, October 7th. Here we had the largest
audience of the whole series and the worst day, the weather being very
cold and raw, notwithstanding which, the people flocked from far and
near. One feature of the Republican procession was a division of one
hundred ladies and an equal number of gentlemen on horseback as a
special escort to the carriage containing Mr. Lincoln. The whole country
seemed to be swarming and the crowd stood three hours in the college
grounds, in a cutting wind, listening to the debate. Mr. Lincoln's
speech at Galesburg was, in my judgment, the best of the series.

"At Quincy, October 13th, we had a fine day and a very large crowd,
although not so large as at Galesburg. The usual processions and
paraphernalia were on hand. Old Whiggery was largely represented here,
and, in front of the Lincoln procession, was a live raccoon on a pole,
emblematic of a by-gone day and a by-gone party. When this touching
reminder of the past drew near the hotel where we were staying, an old
weather-beaten follower of Henry Clay, who was standing near me,
was moved to tears. After mopping his face he made his way up to Mr.
Lincoln, wrung his hand and burst into tears again. The wicked Democrats
carried at the head of their procession a dead 'coon, suspended by
its tail. This was more in accord with existing facts than the other
specimen, but our prejudices ran in favor of live 'coons in that part
of Illinois. Farther north we did not set much store by them. Here I
saw Carl Schurz for the first time. He was hotly in the fray, and was
an eager listener to the Quincy debate. Another rising star, Frank P.
Blair, Jr., was battling for Lincoln in the southern part of the State.

"The next day both Lincoln and Douglas, and their retainers, went on
board the steamer _City of Louisiana_, bound for Alton. Here the last of
the joint debates took place, October 15th. The day was pleasant but the
audience was the smallest of the series, except the one at Jonesboro.
The debate passed off quietly and without any incident worthy of note.

"The campaign was now drawing to a close. Everybody who had borne an
active part in it was pretty well fagged out, except Mr. Lincoln. He
showed no signs of fatigue. Douglas's voice was worn down to extreme
huskiness. He took great pains to save what was left of his throat, but
to listen to him moved one's pity. Nevertheless, he went on doggedly,
bravely, and with a jaunty air of confidence. Mr. Lincoln's voice was
as clear and far-reaching as it was the day he spoke at Beardstown, two
months before--a high-pitched tenor, almost a falsetto, that could
be heard at a greater distance than Douglas's heavy basso. The battle
continued till the election (November 2d), which took place in a cold,
pelting rainstorm, one of the most uncomfortable in the whole year. But
nobody minded the weather. The excitement was intense all day in all
parts of the State. The Republican State ticket was elected by a small
plurality, the vote being as follows:


     Miller (Republican),........... 125,430

     Fondey (Douglas Democrat),..... 121,609

     Dougherty (Buchanan Democrat),.   5,079

"The Legislature consisted of twenty-five Senators and seventy-five
Representatives. Thirteen Senators held over from the preceding
election. Of these, eight were Democrats and five Republicans. Of the
twelve Senators elected this year, the Democrats elected six and the
Republicans six. So the new Senate was composed of fourteen Democrats
and eleven Republicans.

"Of the seventy-five members of the House of Representatives, the
Democrats elected forty and the Republicans thirty-five.

"On joint ballot, therefore, the Democrats had fifty-four and the
Republicans forty-six. And by this vote was Mr. Douglas re-elected

"Mr. Isaac N. Arnold, in his biography, says that Mr. Lincoln lost the
election because a number of the holding-over Senators, representing
districts that actually gave Republican majorities in this election,
were Democrats. This is an error, and an inexcusable one for a person
who is writing history. The apportionment of the State into Legislative
districts had become, by the growth and movement of population, unduly
favorable to the Democrats; that is, it required fewer votes on the
average to elect a member in a Democratic district than in a Republican
district. But ideal perfection is never attained in such matters. By the
rules of the game Douglas had fairly won. The Republicans claimed that
the Lincoln members of the Lower House of the Legislature received more
votes, all told, than the Douglas members. These figures are not, at
this writing, accessible to me, but my recollection is that, even on
this basis, Douglas scored a small majority. There were five thousand
Democratic votes to be accounted for, which had been cast for Dougherty
for State Treasurer, and of these, the Douglas candidates for the
Legislature would naturally get more than the Lincoln candidates.

"What is more to the purpose, is that the Republicans gained 29,241
votes, as against a Democratic gain of 21,332 (counting the Douglas and
Buchanan vote together), over the presidential election of 1856. There
were 37,444 votes for Fillmore in that year, and there was also an
increase of the total vote of 13,129. These 50,573 votes, or their
equivalents, were divided between Lincoln and Douglas in the ratio of 29
to 21.

"Mr. Lincoln, as he said at the Dixon Conference, had gone after 'larger
game,' and he had bagged it to a greater extent than he, or anybody,
then, imagined. But the immediate prize was taken by his great rival.

"I say great rival, with a full sense of the meaning of the words. I
heard Mr. Douglas deliver his speech to the members of the Illinois
Legislature, April 25, 1861, in the gathering tumult of arms. It was
like a blast of thunder. I do not think that it is possible for a human
being to produce a more prodigious effect with spoken words, than
he produced on those who were within the sound of his voice. He was
standing in the same place where I had first heard Mr. Lincoln. The
veins of his neck and forehead were swollen with passion, and the
perspiration ran down his face in streams. His voice had recovered
its clearness from the strain of the previous year, and was frequently
broken with emotion. The amazing force that he threw into the words:
'When hostile armies are marching under new and odious banners against
the government of our country, the shortest way to peace is the most
stupendous and unanimous preparation for war,' seemed to shake the whole
building. That speech hushed the breath of treason in every corner of
the State. Two months later he was in his grave. He was only forty-eight
years old.

"The next time I saw Mr. Lincoln, after the election, I said to him that
I hoped he was not so much disappointed as I had been. This, of course,
'reminded him of a little story.' I have forgotten the story, but it was
about an over-grown boy who had met with some mishap, 'stumped' his toe,
perhaps, and who said that 'it hurt too much to laugh, and he was too
big to cry.'

"Mention has been made of the 'Danites' in the campaign. They were
the Buchanan office-holders and their underlings, and, generally, a
contemptible lot. The chief dispenser of patronage for Illinois was
John Slidell, Senator from Louisiana. He took so much interest in his
vocation that he came to Chicago as early as the month of July, to see
how the postmasters were doing their work. He hated Douglas intensely,
and slandered him vilely, telling stories about the cruel treatment
and dreadful condition of the negroes on the Douglas plantation in
Louisiana. These stories were told to Dr. Daniel Brainard, the surgeon
of the U. S. Marine Hospital. Brainard was a Buchanan Democrat, like all
the other federal officeholders, but was a very distinguished surgeon;
in fact, at the head of his profession, and a man of wealth and social
standing. He became convinced that Slidell's story about the Douglas
negroes was true, and he communicated it to Doctor Ray, and urged him to
publish it in the _Tribune_. Doctor Ray did so, without, however, giving
any names. It made no little commotion. Presently, the New Orleans
_Picayune_ denied the truth of the statement, concerning the condition
and treatment of the negroes, and called it 'an election canard.' Then
the Chicago Times called for the authority, and the Tribune gave the
names of Brainard and Slidell. The latter at once published a card
in the Washington Union, denying that he had ever made the statements
attributed to him by Brainard. The latter was immediately in distress.
He first denied that he had made the statements imputed to him, but
afterward admitted that he had had conversations with a Republican
editor about the hardships of the Douglas negroes, but denied that he
had given Slidell as authority. Nobody doubted that the authorship of
the story was correctly stated in the first publication. It was much too
circumstantial to have been invented, and Doctor Ray was not the man to
publish lies knowingly.

"The 'Danites' held a State convention at Springfield, September 8th,
or, rather, they had called one for that date, but the attendance was so
small that they organized it as a convention of the Sixth Congressional
District. John C. Breckinridge and Daniel S. Dickinson had been
announced as speakers for the occasion, but neither of them appeared.
Breckinridge took no notice of this meeting, or of his invitation to
be present. A telegram was read from Dickinson, sending 'a thousand
greetings,' and this, the Douglas men said, was liberal, being about
ten to each delegate. Ex-Gov. John Reynolds was the principal speaker.
Douglas was in Springfield the same day. He met his enemies by chance at
the railway station, and glared defiance at them.

"Mention should be made of the services of Senator Trumbull in the
campaign. Mr. Trumbull was a political debator, scarcely, if at all,
inferior to either Lincoln or Douglas. He had given Douglas more trouble
in the Senate, during the three years he had been there, than anybody
else in that body. He had known Douglas from his youth, and he knew all
the joints in his armor. He possessed a courage equal to any occasion,
and he wielded a blade of tempered steel. He was not present at any of
the joint debates, or at any of Mr. Lincoln's separate meetings, but
addressed meetings wherever the State Central Committee sent him. Mr.
Lincoln often spoke of him to me, and always in terms of admiration.
That Mr. Lincoln was sorely disappointed at losing the Senatorship in
1855, when Trumbull was elected, is quite true, but he knew, as well as
anybody, that in the then condition of parties, such a result could not
be avoided. Judd, Palmer and Cook had been elected to the Legislature as
Democrats. The Republican party was not yet born. The political elements
were in the boiling stage. These men could not tell what kind of
crystallization would take place. The only safe course for them, looking
to their constituencies, was to vote for a Democrat who was opposed to
the extension of slavery. Such a man they found in Lyman Trumbull, and
they knew that no mistake would be made in choosing him. I say that
Mr. Lincoln knew all this as fully as anybody could. I do not remember
having any talk with him on that subject, for it was then somewhat
stale. But I do remember the hearty good feeling that he cherished
toward Trumbull and the three men here mentioned, who were chiefly
instrumental in securing Trumbull's election.

"Douglas scented danger when Trumbull took the field, and, with his
usual adroitness, sought to gain sympathy by making it appear that it
was no fair game. At Havana, in the speech already alluded to, he made a
rather moving remonstrance against this 'playing of two upon one,' as
he called it. Mr. Lincoln, in his speech at the same place, thought it
worth while to reply:

"'I understand,' he said, 'that Judge Douglas, yesterday, referred
to the fact that both Judge Trumbull and myself are making speeches
throughout the State to beat him for the Senate, and that he tried to
create sympathy by the suggestion that this was playing _two upon
one_ against him. It is true that Judge Trumbull has made a speech in
Chicago, and I believe he intends to co-operate with the Republican
Central Committee in their arrangements for the campaign, to the extent
of making other speeches in different parts of the State. Judge Trumbull
is a Republican like myself, and he naturally feels a lively interest in
the success of his party. Is there anything wrong about that? But I will
show you how little Judge Douglas's appeal to your sympathies amounts
to. At the next general election, two years from now, a Legislature will
be elected, which will have to choose a successor to Judge Trumbull. Of
course, there will be an effort to fill his place with a Democrat. This
person, whoever he may be, is probably out making stump-speeches against
me, just as Judge Douglas is. He may be one of the present Democratic
members of the Lower House of Congress--but, whoever he is, I can tell
you that he has got to make some stump-speeches now, or his party will
not nominate him for the seat occupied by Judge Trumbull. Well, are not
Judge Douglas and this man playing two upon one against me, just as
much as Judge Trumbull and I are playing _two upon one_ against Judge
Douglas? And, if it happens that there are two Democratic aspirants for
Judge Trumbull's place, are they not playing three upon one against me,
just as we are playing two upon one against Judge Douglas?'

"Douglas had as many helpers as Lincoln had. His complaint implied that
there was nobody on the Democratic side who was anywhere near being a
match for Trumbull, and this was the fact.

"I think that this was the most important intellectual wrestle that has
ever taken place in this country, and that it will bear comparison with
any which history mentions. Its consequences we all know. It gave Mr.
Lincoln such prominence in the public eye that his nomination to the
Presidency became possible and almost inevitable. It put an apple
of discord in the Democratic party which hopelessly divided it at
Charleston, thus making Republican success in 1860 morally certain. This
was one of Mr. Lincoln's designs, as has been already shown. Perhaps the
Charleston schism would have taken place, even if Douglas had not been
driven into a corner at Freeport, and compelled to proclaim the doctrine
of 'unfriendly legislation,' but it is more likely that the break would
have been postponed a few years longer.

"Everything stated in this chapter is taken from memoranda made at the
time of occurrence. I need not say that I conceived an ardent attachment
to Mr. Lincoln. Nobody could be much in his society without being
strongly drawn to him.

"Horace White"

New York, February 27, 1890


BEFORE Mr. Lincoln surrenders himself completely to the public--for it
is apparent he is fast approaching the great crisis of his career--it
may not be entirely inappropriate to take a nearer and more personal
view of him. A knowledge of his personal views and actions, a glimpse
through the doorway of his home, and a more thorough acquaintance with
his marked and strong points as they developed, will aid us greatly in
forming our general estimate of the man. When Mr. Lincoln entered the
domain of investigation he was a severe and persistent thinker, and had
wonderful endurance; hence he was abstracted, and for that reason at
times was somewhat unsocial, reticent, and uncommunicative. After his
marriage it cannot be said that he liked the society of ladies; in fact,
it was just what he did not like, though one of his biographers says
otherwise. Lincoln had none of the tender ways that please a woman, and
he could not, it seemed, by any positive act of his own make her happy.
If his wife was happy, she was naturally happy, or made herself so in
spite of countless drawbacks. He was, however, a good husband in his own
peculiar way, and in his own way only.

If exhausted from severe and long-continued thought, he had to touch the
earth again to renew his strength. When this weariness set in he would
stop thought, and get down and play with a little dog or kitten to
recover; and when the recovery came he would push it aside to play
with its own tail. He treated men and women in much the same way. For
fashionable society he had a marked dislike, although he appreciated
its value in promoting the welfare of a man ambitious to succeed in
politics. If he was invited out to dine or to mingle in some social
gathering, and came in contact with the ladies, he treated them with
becoming politeness; but the consciousness of his shortcomings as a
society man rendered him unusually diffident, and at the very first
opportunity he would have the men separated from their ladies and
crowded close around him in one corner of the parlor, listening to one
of his characteristic stories. That a lady * as proud and as ambitious
to exercise the rights of supremacy in society as Mary Todd should
repent of her marriage to the man I have just described surely need
occasion no surprise in the mind of anyone. Both she and the man whose
hand she accepted acted along the lines of human conduct, and both
reaped the bitter harvest of conjugal infelicity.

     * Mrs. Lincoln was decidedly pro-slavery in her views. One
     day she was invited to take a ride with a neighboring
     family, some of whose members still reside in Springfield.
     "If ever my husband dies," she ejaculated during the ride,
     "his spirit will never find me living outside the limits of
     a slave State."

In dealing with Mr. Lincoln's home life perhaps I am revealing an
element of his character that has heretofore been kept from the world;
but in doing so I feel sure I am treading on no person's toes, for all
the actors in this domestic drama are dead, and the world seems ready to
hear the facts. As his married life, in the opinion of all his friends,
exerted a peculiar influence over Mr. Lincoln's political career there
can be no impropriety, I apprehend, in throwing the light on it now.
Mrs. Lincoln's disposition and nature have been dwelt upon in another
chapter, and enough has been told to show that one of her greatest
misfortunes was her inability to control her temper. Admit that, and
everything can be explained. However cold and abstracted her husband
may have appeared to others, however impressive, when aroused, may have
seemed his indignation in public, he never gave vent to his feelings at
home. He always meekly accepted as final the authority of his wife in
all matters of domestic concern.*

     * One day a man making some improvements in Lincoln's yard
     suggested to Mrs. Lincoln the propriety of cutting down one
     of the trees, to which she willingly assented. Before doing
     so, however, the man came down to our office and consulted
     Lincoln himself about it. "What did Mrs. Lincoln say?"
     enquired the latter. "She consented to have it taken away."
     "Then, in God's name," exclaimed Lincoln, "cut it down to
     the roots!"

This may explain somewhat the statement of Judge Davis that, "as a
general rule, when all the lawyers of a Saturday evening would go home
and see their families and friends, Lincoln would find some excuse
and refuse to go. We said nothing, but it seemed to us all he was not
domestically happy." He exercised no government of any kind over his
household. His children did much as they pleased. Many of their antics
he approved, and he restrained them in nothing. He never reproved them
or gave them a fatherly frown. He was the most indulgent parent I have
ever known. He was in the habit, when at home on Sunday, of bringing
his two boys, Willie and Thomas--or "Tad"--down to the office to remain
while his wife attended church. He seldom accompanied her there. The
boys were absolutely unrestrained in their amusement. If they pulled
down all the books from the shelves, bent the points of all the pens,
overturned inkstands, scattered law-papers over the floor, or threw
the pencils into the spittoon, it never disturbed the serenity of their
father's good-nature. Frequently absorbed in thought, he never observed
their mischievous but destructive pranks--as his unfortunate partner
did, who thought much, but said nothing--and, even if brought to his
attention, he virtually encouraged their repetition by declining to show
any substantial evidence of parental disapproval. After church was over
the boys and their father, climbing down the office stairs, ruefully
turned their steps homeward. They mingled with the throngs of
well-dressed people returning from church, the majority of whom might
well have wondered if the trio they passed were going to a fireside
where love and white-winged peace reigned supreme. A near relative of
Mrs. Lincoln, in explanation of the unhappy condition of things in that
lady's household, offered this suggestion: "Mrs. Lincoln came of the
best stock, and was raised like a lady. Her husband was her opposite,
in origin, in education, in breeding, in everything; and it is therefore
quite natural that she should complain if he answered the door-bell
himself instead of sending the servant to do so; neither is she to be
condemned if, as you say, she raised 'merry war' because he persisted
in using his own knife in the butter, instead of the silver-handled one
intended for that purpose." * Such want of social polish on the part of
her husband of course gave Mrs. Lincoln great offense, and therefore
in commenting on it she cared neither for time nor place. Her frequent
outbursts of temper precipitated many an embarrassment from which
Lincoln with great difficulty' extricated himself.

     * A lady relative who lived for two years with the Lincolns
     told me that Mr. Lincoln was in the habit of lying on the
     floor with the back of a chair for a pillow when he read.
     One evening, when in this position in the hall, a knock was
     heard at the front door and although in his shirt-sleeves he
     answered the call. Two ladies were at the door whom he
     invited into the parlor, notifying them in his open familiar
     way, that he would "trot the women folks out." Mrs. Lincoln
     from an adjoining room witnessed the ladies' entrance and
     overheard her husband's jocose expression. Her indignation
     was so instantaneous she made the situation exceedingly
     interesting for him, and he was glad to retreat from the
     mansion. He did not return till very late at night and then
     slipped quietly in at a rear door.

[Illustration: Lincoln Home in Springfield 162]

Mrs. Lincoln, on account of her peculiar nature, could not long retain
a servant in her employ. The sea was never so placid but that a breeze
would ruffle its waters. She loved show and attention, and if, when
she glorified her family descent or indulged in one of her strange
outbreaks, the servant could simulate absolute obsequiousness or had
tact enough to encourage her social pretensions, Mrs. Lincoln was for
the time her firmest friend. One servant, who adjusted herself to suit
the lady's capricious ways, lived with the family for several years. She
told me that at the time of the debate between Douglas and Lincoln she
often heard the latter's wife boast that she would yet be mistress of
the White House. The secret of her ability to endure the eccentricities
of her mistress came out in the admission that Mr. Lincoln gave her an
extra dollar each week on condition that she would brave whatever storms
might arise, and suffer whatever might befall her, without complaint. It
was a rather severe condition, but she lived rigidly up to her part of
the contract. The money was paid secretly and without the knowledge of
Mrs. Lincoln. Frequently, after tempestuous scenes between the mistress
and her servant, Lincoln at the first opportunity would place his hand
encouragingly on the latter's shoulder with the admonition, "Mary, keep
up your courage." It may not be without interest to add that the servant
afterwards married a man who enlisted in the army. In the spring of 1865
his wife managed to reach Washington to secure her husband's release
from the service. After some effort she succeeded in obtaining an
interview with the President. He was glad to see her, gave her a basket
of fruit, and directed her to call the next day and obtain a pass
through the lines and money to buy clothes for herself and children.
That night he was assassinated.

The following letter to the editor of a newspaper in Springfield will
serve as a specimen of the perplexities which frequently beset Mr.
Lincoln when his wife came in contact with others. What in this instance
she said to the paper carrier we do not know; we can only intelligently
infer. I have no personal recollection of the incident, although I knew
the man to whom it was addressed quite well. The letter only recently
came to light. I insert it without further comment.


"Springfield, Ill., February 20, 1857.

"John E. Rosette, Esq.

"Dear Sir:--Your note about the little paragraph in the Republican was
received yesterday, since which time I have been too unwell to notice
it. I had not supposed you wrote or approved it. The whole originated
in mistake. You know by the conversation with me that I thought the
establishment of the paper unfortunate, but I always expected to throw
no obstacle in its way, and to patronize it to the extent of taking and
paying for one copy. When the paper was brought to my house, my wife
said to me, 'Now are you going to take another worthless little paper?'
I said to her _evasively_, 'I have not directed the paper to be left.'
From this, in my absence, she sent the message to the carrier. This is
the whole story.

"Yours truly,

"A. Lincoln."

A man once called at the house to learn why Mrs. Lincoln had so
unceremoniously discharged his niece from her employ. Mrs. Lincoln
met him at the door, and being somewhat wrought up, gave vent to her
feelings, resorting to such violent gestures and emphatic language that
the man was glad to beat a hasty retreat. He at once started out to find
Lincoln, determined to exact from him proper satisfaction for his wife's
action. Lincoln was entertaining a crowd in a store at the time. The
man, still laboring under some agitation, called him to the door
and made the demand. Lincoln listened for a moment to his story. "My
friend," he interrupted, "I regret to hear this, but let me ask you in
all candor, can't you endure for a few moments what I have had as my
daily portion for the last fifteen years?" These words were spoken so
mournfully and with such a look of distress that the man was completely
disarmed. It was a case that appealed to his feelings. Grasping the
unfortunate husband's hand, he expressed in no uncertain terms his
sympathy, and even apologized for having approached him. He said no more
about the infuriated wife, and Lincoln afterward had no better friend in

Mr. Lincoln never had a confidant, and therefore never unbosomed himself
to others. He never spoke of his trials to me or, so far as I knew, to
any of his friends. It was a great burden to carry, but he bore it
sadly enough and without a murmur. I could always realize when he was
in distress, without being told. He was not exactly an early riser, that
is, he never usually appeared at the office till about nine o'clock
in the morning. I usually preceded him an hour. Sometimes, however, he
would come down as early as seven o'clock--in fact, on one occasion I
remember he came down before daylight. If, on arriving at the office,
I found him in, I knew instantly that a breeze had sprung up over the
domestic sea, and that the waters were troubled. He would either be
lying on the lounge looking skyward, or doubled up in a chair with his
feet resting on the sill of a back window. He would not look up on my
entering, and only answered my "Good morning" with a grunt. I at once
busied myself with pen and paper, or ran through the leaves of some
book; but the evidence of his melancholy and distress was so plain,
and his silence so significant, that I would grow restless myself, and
finding some excuse to go to the courthouse or elsewhere, would leave
the room.

The door of the office opening into a narrow hallway was half glass,
with a curtain on it working on brass rings strung on wire. As I passed
out on these occasions I would draw the curtain across the glass, and
before I reached the bottom of the stairs I could hear the key turn in
the lock, and Lincoln was alone in his gloom. An hour in the clerk's
office at the court-house, an hour longer in a neighboring store having
passed, I would return. By that time either a client had dropped in and
Lincoln was propounding the law, or else the cloud of despondency had
passed away, and he was busy in the recital of an Indiana story to
whistle off the recollections of the morning's gloom. Noon having
arrived I would depart homeward for my dinner. Returning within an hour,
I would find him still in the office,--although his house stood but
a few squares away,--lunching on a slice of cheese and a handful of
crackers which, in my absence, he had brought up from a store below.
Separating for the day at five or six o'clock in the evening, I would
still leave him behind, either sitting on a box at the foot of the
stairway, entertaining a few loungers, or killing time in the same way
on the court-house steps. A light in the office after dark attested his
presence there till late along in the night, when, after all the world
had gone to sleep, the tall form of the man destined to be the nation's
President could have been seen strolling along in the shadows of trees
and buildings, and quietly slipping in through the door of a modest
frame house, which it pleased the world, in a conventional way, to call
his home.

Some persons may insist that this picture is too highly colored. If so,
I can only answer, they do not know the facts. The majority of those who
have a personal knowledge of them are persistent in their silence. If
their lips could be opened and all could be known, my conclusions
and statements, to say the least of them, would be found to be fair,
reasonable, and true. A few words more as to Lincoln's domestic history,
and I pass to a different phase of his life. One of his warmest and
closest friends, who still survives, maintains the theory that,
after all, Lincoln's political ascendancy and final elevation to the
Presidency were due more to the influence of his wife than to any other
person or cause. "The fact," insists this friend, "that Mary Todd, by
her turbulent nature and unfortunate manner, prevented her husband
from becoming a domestic man, operated largely in his favor; for he
was thereby kept out in the world of business and politics. Instead of
spending his evenings at home, reading the papers and warming his toes
at his own fireside, he was constantly out with the common people, was
mingling with the politicians, discussing public questions with the
farmers who thronged the offices in the court-house and state house, and
exchanging views with the loungers who surrounded the stove of winter
evenings in the village store. The result of this continuous contact
with the world was, that he was more thoroughly known than any other
man in his community. His wife, therefore, was one of the unintentional
means of his promotion. If, on the other hand, he had married some
less ambitious but more domestic woman, some honest farmer's quiet
daughter,--one who would have looked up to and worshipped him because
he uplifted her,--the result might have been different. For, although
it doubtless would have been her pride to see that he had clean clothes
whenever he needed them; that his slippers were always in their place;
that he was warmly clad and had plenty to eat; and, although the
privilege of ministering to his every wish and whim might have been to
her a pleasure rather than a duty; yet I fear he would have been buried
in the pleasures of a loving home, and the country would never have had
Abraham Lincoln for its President."

In her domestic troubles I have always sympathized with Mrs. Lincoln.
The world does not know what she bore, or how ill-adapted she was to
bear it. Her fearless, witty, and austere nature shrank instinctively
from association with the calm, imperturbable, and simple ways of her
thoughtful and absent-minded husband. Besides, who knows but she may
have acted out in her conduct toward her husband the laws of human
revenge? The picture of that eventful evening in 1841, when she stood at
the Edwards mansion clad in her bridal robes, the feast prepared and
the guests gathered, and when the bridegroom came not, may have been
constantly before her, and prompted her to a course of action which kept
in the background the better elements of her nature. In marrying Lincoln
she did not look so far into the future as Mary Owens, who declined his
proposal because "he was deficient in those little links which make up
the chain of woman's happiness." *

     * Mrs. Lincoln died at the residence of her sister Mrs.
     Ninian W. Edwards, in Springfield, July 16, 1882. Her
     physician during her last illness says this of her: "In the
     late years of her life certain mental peculiarities were
     developed which finally culminated in a slight apoplexy,
     producing paralysis, of which she died. Among the
     peculiarities alluded to, one of the most singular was the
     habit she had during the last year or so of her life of
     immuring herself in a perfectly dark room and, for light,
     using a small candle-light, even when the sun was shining
     bright out-of-doors. No urging would induce her to go out
     into the fresh air. Another peculiarity was the accumulation
     of large quantities of silks and dress goods in trunks and
     by the cart-load, which she never used and which accumulated
     until it was really feared that the floor of the store-room
     would give way. She was bright and sparkling in
     conversation, and her memory remained singularly good up to
     the very close of her life. Her face was animated and
     pleasing; and to me she was always an interesting woman; and
     while the whole world was finding fault with her temper and
     disposition, it was clear to me that the trouble was really
     a cerebral disease."--Dr. Thomas W. Dresser, letter, January
     3, 1889, MS.

By reason of his practical turn of mind Mr. Lincoln never speculated any
more in the scientific and philosophical than he did in the financial
world. He never undertook to fathom the intricacies of psychology
and metaphysics.* Investigation into first causes, abstruse mental
phenomena, the science of being, he brushed aside as trash--mere
scientific absurdities. He discovered through experience that his
mind, like the minds of other men, had its limitations, and hence he
economized his forces and his time by applying his powers in the field
of the practical. Scientifically regarded he was a realist as opposed to
an idealist, a sensationist as opposed to an intuitionist, a materialist
as opposed to a spiritualist.

     * "He was contemplative rather than speculative. He wanted
     something solid to rest upon, and hence his bias for
     mathematics and the physical sciences. He bestowed more
     attention on them than upon metaphysical speculations. I
     have heard him descant upon the problem whether a ball
     discharged from a gun in a horizontal position would be
     longer in reaching the ground than one dropped at the
     instant of discharge from the muzzle. He said it always
     appeared to him that they would both reach the ground at the
     same time, even before he had read the philosophical
     explanation."--Joseph Gillespie, letter, December 8, 1866,

There was more or less superstition in his nature, and, although he may
not have believed implicitly in the signs of his many dreams, he was
constantly endeavoring to unravel them. His mind was readily impressed
with some of the most absurd superstitions. His visit to the Voodoo
fortune-teller in New Orleans in 1831; his faith in the virtues of the
mad-stone, when he took his son Robert to Terre Haute, Indiana, to
be cured of the bite of a rabid dog; and the strange double image of
himself which he told his secretary, John Hay, he saw reflected in a
mirror just after his election in 1860, strongly attest his inclination
to superstition. He held most firmly to the doctrine of fatalism all his
life. His wife, after his death, told me what I already knew, that "his
only philosophy was, what is to be will be, and no prayers of ours can
reverse the decree." He always contended that he was doomed to a sad
fate, and he repeatedly said to me when we were alone in our office:
"I am sure I shall meet with some terrible end." In proof of his strong
leaning towards fatalism he once quoted the case of Brutus and Caesar,
arguing that the former was forced by laws and conditions over which he
had no control to kill the latter, and, _vice versâ_, that the
latter was specially created to be disposed of by the former. This
superstitious view of life ran through his being like the thin blue vein
through the whitest marble, giving the eye rest from the weariness of
continued unvarying color.*

     * I have heard him frequently quote the couplet,

     "There's a divinity that shapes our ends,
     Rough-hew them how we will."

For many years I subscribed for and kept on our office table the
_Westminster and Edinburgh Review_ and a number of other English
periodicals. Besides them I purchased the works of Spencer, Darwin, and
the utterances of other English scientists, all of which I devoured with
great relish. I endeavored, but had little success in inducing Lincoln
to read them. Occasionally he would snatch one up and peruse it for a
little while, but he soon threw it down with the suggestion that it was
entirely too heavy for an ordinary mind to digest.*

     * In 1856 I purchased in New York a life of Edmund Burke. I
     have forgotten now who the author was, but I remember I read
     it through in a short time. One morning Lincoln came into
     the office and, seeing the book in my hands, enquired what I
     was reading. I told him, at the same time observing that it
     was an excellent work and handing the book over to him.
     Taking it in his hand he threw himself down on the office
     sofa and hastily ran over its pages, reading a little here
     and there. At last he closed and threw it on the table with
     the exclamation, "No, I've read enough of it. It's like all
     the others. Biographies as generally written are not only
     misleading, but false. The author of this life of Burke
     makes a wonderful hero out of his subject. He magnifies his
     perfections--if he had any--and suppresses his
     imperfections. He is so faithful in his zeal and so lavish
     in praise of his every act that one is almost driven to
     believe that Burke never made a mistake or a failure in his
     life." He lapsed into a brown study, but presently broke out
     again, "Billy, I've wondered why book-publishers and
     merchants don't have blank biographies on their shelves,
     always ready for an emergency; so that, if a man happens to
     die, his heirs or his friends, if they wish to perpetuate
     his memory, can purchase one already written, but with
     blanks. These blanks they can at their pleasure fill up with
     rosy sentences full of high-sounding praise. In most
     instances they commemorate a lie, and cheat posterity out of
     the truth. History," he concluded, "is not history unless it
     is the truth." This emphatic avowal of sentiment from Mr.
     Lincoln not only fixes his estimate of ordinary biography,
     but is my vindication in advance if assailed for telling the

A gentleman in Springfield gave him a book called, I believe, "Vestiges
of Creation," which interested him so much that he read it through.
The volume was published in Edinburgh, and undertook to demonstrate
the doctrine of development or evolution. The treatise interested him
greatly, and he was deeply impressed with the notion of the so-called
"universal law"--evolution; he did not extend greatly his researches,
but by continued thinking in a single channel seemed to grow into a
warm advocate of the new doctrine. Beyond what I have stated he made
no further investigation into the realm of philosophy. "There are no
accidents," he said one day, "in my philosophy. Every effect must have
its cause. The past is the cause of the present, and the present will
be the cause of the future. All these are links in the endless chain
stretching from the finite to the infinite." From what has been said
it would follow logically that he did not believe, except in a very
restricted sense, in the freedom of the will. We often argued the
question, I taking the opposite view; he changed the expression, calling
it the freedom of the mind, and insisted that man always acted from
a motive. I once contended that man was free and could act without a
motive. He smiled at my philosophy, and answered that it was "impossible,
because the motive was born before the man."

The foregoing thoughts are prefatory to the much-mooted question of
Mr. Lincoln's religious belief. For what I have heretofore said on this
subject, both in public lectures and in letters which have frequently
found their way into the newspapers, I have been freely and sometimes
bitterly assailed, but I do not intend now to reopen the discussion or
to answer the many persons who have risen up and asked to measure swords
with me. I merely purpose to state the bare facts, expressing no
opinion of my own, and allowing each and every one to put his or her
construction on them.

Inasmuch as he was so often a candidate for public office Mr. Lincoln
said as little about his religious opinions as possible, especially if
he failed to coincide with the orthodox world. In illustration of his
religious code I once heard him say that it was like that of an old man
named Glenn, in Indiana, whom he heard speak at a church meeting, and
who said: "When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad, and
that's my religion." In 1834, while still living in New Salem and before
he became a lawyer, he was surrounded by a class of people exceedingly
liberal in matters of religion. Volney's "Ruins" and Paine's "Age of
Reason" passed from hand to hand, and furnished food for the evening's
discussion in the tavern and village store. Lincoln read both these
books and thus assimilated them into his own being. He prepared an
extended essay--called by many, a book--in which he made an argument
against Christianity, striving to prove that the Bible was not inspired,
and therefore not God's revelation, and that Jesus Christ was not the
son of God. The manuscript containing these audacious and comprehensive
propositions he intended to have published or given a wide circulation
in some other way. He carried it to the store, where it was read and
freely discussed. His friend and employer, Samuel Hill, was among the
listeners, and, seriously questioning the propriety of a promising
young man like Lincoln fathering such unpopular notions, he snatched the
manuscript from his hands and thrust it into the stove. The book went up
in flames, and Lincoln's political future was secure. But his infidelity
and his sceptical views were not diminished. He soon removed to
Springfield, where he attracted considerable notice by his rank
doctrine. Much of what he then said may properly be credited to the
impetuosity and exuberance of youth. One of his closest friends, whose
name is withheld, narrating scenes and reviewing discussions that in
1838 took place in the office of the county clerk, says: "Sometimes
Lincoln bordered on atheism. He went far that way, and shocked me. I was
then a young man, and believed what my good mother told me.... He would
come into the clerk's office where I and some young men were writing and
staying, and would bring the Bible with him; would read a chapter and
argue against it.... Lincoln was enthusiastic in his infidelity. As
he grew older he grew more discreet; didn't talk much before strangers
about his religion; but to friends, close and bosom ones, he was always
open and avowed, fair and honest; to strangers, he held them off from
policy." John T. Stuart, who was Lincoln's first partner, substantially
endorses the above. "He was an avowed and open infidel," declares
Stuart, "and sometimes bordered on atheism;.... went further against
Christian beliefs and doctrines and principles than any man I ever
heard; he shocked me. I don't remember the exact line of his argument;
suppose it was against the inherent defects, so-called, of the Bible,
and on grounds of reason. Lincoln always denied that Jesus was the
Christ of God--denied that Jesus was the son of God as understood and
maintained by the Christian Church." David Davis tells us this: "The
idea that Lincoln talked to a stranger about his religion or religious
views, or made such speeches and remarks about it as are published,
is to me absurd. I knew the man so well; he was the most reticent,
secretive man I ever saw or expect to see. He had no faith, in the
Christian sense of the term--had faith in laws, principles, causes and
effects." Another man * testifies as follows: "Mr. Lincoln told me
that he was a kind of immortalist; that he never could bring himself to
believe in eternal punishment; that man lived but a little while here;
and that if eternal punishment were man's doom, he should spend that
little life in vigilant and ceaseless preparation by never-ending
prayer." Another intimate friend** furnishes this: "In my intercourse
with Mr. Lincoln I learned that he believed in a Creator of all things,
who had neither beginning nor end, possessing all power and wisdom,
established a principle in obedience to which worlds move and are
upheld, and animal and vegetable life come into existence. A reason he
gave for his belief was that in view of the order and harmony of all
nature which we behold, it would have been more miraculous to have come
about by chance than to have been created and arranged by some great
thinking power."

     * William H. Hannah.

     ** I. W. Keys.

As to the Christian theory that Christ is God or equal to the Creator,
he said that it had better be taken for granted; for by the test
of reason we might become infidels on that subject, for evidence of
Christ's divinity came to us in a somewhat doubtful shape; but that the
system of Christianity was an ingenious one at least, and perhaps was
calculated to do good." Jesse W. Fell, to whom Lincoln first confided
the details of his biography, furnishes a more elaborate account of
the latter's religious views than anyone else. In a statement made
September 22, 1870, Fell says: "If there were any traits of character
that stood out in bold relief in the person of Mr. Lincoln they were
those of truth and candor. He was utterly incapable of insincerity or
professing views on this or any other subject he did not entertain.
Knowing such to be his true character, that insincerity, much more
duplicity, were traits wholly foreign to his nature, many of his
old friends were not a little surprised at finding in some of the
biographies of this great man statements concerning his religious
opinions so utterly at variance with his known sentiments. True, he may
have changed or modified these sentiments* after his removal from among
us, though this is hardly reconcilable with the history of the man, and
his entire devotion to public matters during his four years' residence
at the national capital.

     * "Executive Mansion, Washington, May 27, 1865.

     "Friend Herndon: "Mr. Lincoln did not to my knowledge in any
     way change his religious ideas, opinions, or beliefs from
     the time he left Springfield to the day of his death. I do
     not know just what they were, never having heard him explain
     them in detail; but I am very sure he gave no outward
     indication of his mind having undergone any change in that
     regard while here. \

     "Yours truly,

     "Jno. G. Nicolay."

It is possible, however, that this may be the proper solution of this
conflict of opinions; or it may be that, with no intention on the part
of any one to mislead the public mind, those who have represented him
as believing in the popular theological views of the times may have
misapprehended him, as experience shows to be quite common where no
special effort has been made to attain critical accuracy on a subject
of this nature. This is the more probable from the well-known fact, that
Mr. Lincoln seldom communicated to any one his views on this subject;
but be this as it may, I have no hesitation whatever in saying that
whilst he held many opinions in common with the great mass of Christian
believers, he did not believe in what are regarded as the orthodox or
evangelical views of Christianity.

"On the innate depravity of man, the character and office of the great
Head of the Church, the atonement, the infallibility of the written
revelation, the performance of miracles, the nature and design of
present and future rewards and punishments (as they are popularly
called), and many other subjects he held opinions utterly at variance
with what are usually taught in the Church. I should say that his
expressed views on these and kindred topics were such as, in the
estimation of most believers, would place him outside the Christian
pale. Yet, to my mind, such was not the true position, since his
principles and practices and the spirit of his whole life were of the
very kind we universally agree to call Christian; and I think this
conclusion is in no wise affected by the circumstance that he never
attached himself to any religious society whatever.

"His religious views were eminently practical, and are summed up, as
I think, in these two propositions: the Fatherhood of God, and the
brotherhood of man. He fully believed in a superintending and overruling
Providence that guides and controls the operations of the world, but
maintained that law and order, and not their violation or suspension,
are the appointed means by which this Providence is exercised.*

     * "A convention of preachers held, I think, at Philadelphia,
     passed a resolution asking him to recommend to Congress an
     amendment to the Constitution directly recognizing the
     existence of God. The first draft of his message prepared
     after this resolution was sent him did contain a paragraph
     calling the attention of Congress to the subject. When I
     assisted him in reading the proof he struck it out,
     remarking that he had not made up his mind as to its
     propriety."--MS. letter, John D. Defrees, December 4, 1866.

"I will not attempt any specification of either his belief or disbelief
on various religious topics, as derived from conversations with him at
different times during a considerable period; but as conveying a general
view of his religious or theological opinions, will state the following
facts. Some eight or ten years prior to his death, in conversing with
him upon this subject, the writer took occasion to refer, in terms
of approbation, to the sermons and writings generally of Dr. W. E.
Channing; and, finding he was considerably interested in the statement
I made of the opinions held by that author, I proposed to present him
(Lincoln) a copy of Channing's entire works, which I soon after did.
Subsequently the contents of these volumes, together with the writings
of Theodore Parker, furnished him, as he informed me, by his friend
and law partner, William H. Herndon, became naturally the topics of
conversation with us; and, though far from believing there was an entire
harmony of views on his part with either of those authors, yet they were
generally much admired and approved by him.

"No religious views with him seemed to find any favor except of the
practical and rationalistic order; and if, from my recollections on
this subject, I was called upon to designate an author whose views
most nearly represented Mr. Lincoln's on this subject, I would say that
author was Theodore Parker." The last witness to testify before this
case is submitted to the reader is no less a person than Mrs. Lincoln
herself. In a statement made at a time and under circumstances detailed
in a subsequent chapter she said this: "Mr. Lincoln had no faith and no
hope in the usual acceptation of those words. He never joined a Church;
but still, as I believe, he was a religious man by nature. He first
seemed to think about the subject when our boy Willie died, and then
more than ever about the time he went to Gettysburg; but it was a kind
of poetry in his nature, and he was never a technical Christian."

No man had a stronger or firmer faith in Providence--God--than Mr.
Lincoln, but the continued use by him late in life of the word God must
not be interpreted to mean that he believed in a personal God. In 1854
he asked me to erase the word God from a speech which I had written and
read to him for criticism because my language indicated a personal God,
whereas he insisted no such personality ever existed.

My own testimony, however, in regard to Mr. Lincoln's religious views
may perhaps invite discussion. The world has always insisted on making
an orthodox Christian of him, and to analyze his sayings or sound his
beliefs is but to break the idol. It only remains to say that, whether
orthodox or not, he believed in God and immortality; and even if he
questioned the existence of future eternal punishment he hoped to find
a rest from trouble and a heaven beyond the grave. If at any time in his
life he was sceptical of the divine origin of the Bible he ought not for
that reason to be condemned; for he accepted the practical precepts of
that great book as binding alike upon his head and his conscience. The
benevolence of his impulses, the seriousness of his convictions, and the
nobility of his character are evidences unimpeachable that his soul
was ever filled with the exalted purity and sublime faith of natural


The result of the campaign of 1858 wrought more disaster to Lincoln's
finances than to his political prospects. The loss of over six months
from his business, and the expenses of the canvass, made a severe drain
on his personal income. He was anxious to get back to the law once more
and earn a little ready money. A letter written about this time to his
friend Norman B. Judd, Chairman of the Republican State Committee, will
serve to throw some light on the situation he found himself in. "I have
been on expenses so long, without earning anything," he says, "that I am
absolutely without money now for even household expenses. Still, if you
can put in $250 for me towards discharging the debt of the committee, I
will allow it when you and I settle the private matter between us. This,
with what I have already paid, with an outstanding note of mine, will
exceed my subscription of $500. This, too, is exclusive of my ordinary
expenses during the campaign, all of which, being added to my loss of
time and business, bears prettily heavily upon one no better off than I
am. But as I had the post of honor, it is not for me to be over-nice."
At the time this letter was written his property consisted of the house
and lot on which he lived, a few law books and some household furniture.
He owned a small tract of land in Iowa which yielded him nothing, and
the annual income from his law practice did not exceed $3,000; yet the
party's committee in Chicago were dunning their late standard-bearer,
who, besides the chagrin of his defeat, his own expenses, and the
sacrifice of his time, was asked to aid in meeting the general expenses
of the campaign. At this day one is a little surprised that some of the
generous and wealthy members of the party in Chicago or elsewhere did
not come forward and volunteer their aid. But they did not, and whether
Lincoln felt in his heart the injustice of this treatment or not, he
went straight ahead in his own path and said nothing about it.

Political business being off his hands, he now conceived the idea of
entering the lecture field. He began preparations in the usual way
by noting down ideas on stray pieces of paper, which found a lodgment
inside his hat, and finally brought forth in connected form a lecture on
"Inventions." He recounted the wonderful improvements in machinery, the
arts, and sciences. Now and then he indulged in a humorous paragraph,
and witticisms were freely sprinkled throughout the lecture. During
the winter he delivered it at several towns in the central part of the
State, but it was so commonplace, and met with such indifferent success,
that he soon dropped it altogether.* The effort met with the disapproval
of his friends, and he himself was filled with disgust.

     * "As we were going to Danville court I read to Lincoln a
     lecture by Bancroft on the wonderful progress of man,
     delivered in the preceding November. Sometime later he told
     us--Swett and me--that he had been thinking much on the
     subject and believed he would write a lecture on 'Man and
     His Progress.' Afterwards I read in a paper that he had come
     to either Bloomington or Clinton to lecture and no one
     turned out. The paper added, 'That doesn't look much like
     his being President.' I once joked him about it; he said
     good-naturedly, 'Don't; that plagues me.'"--Henry C.
     Whitney, letter, Aug. 27, 1867, MS.

     "Springfield, March 28, 1859.

     "W. M. Morris, Esq.,

     "Dear Sir:--Your kind note inviting me to deliver a lecture
     at Galesburg is received. I regret to say I cannot do so
     now; I must stick to the courts awhile. I read a sort of
     lecture to three different audiences during the last month
     and this; but I did so under circumstances which made it a
     waste of no time whatever.

     "Yours very truly,

     "A. Lincoln."

If his address in 1852, over the death of Clay, proved that he was no
eulogist, then this last effort demonstrated that he was no lecturer.
Invitations to deliver the lecture--prompted no doubt by the
advertisement given him in the contest with Douglas--came in very
freely; but beyond the three attempts named, he declined them all.
"Press of business in the courts" afforded him a convenient excuse, and
he retired from the field.

During the fall of 1859 invitations to take part in the canvass came
from over half-a-dozen States where elections were to be held, Douglas,
fresh from the Senate, had gone to Ohio, and thither in September
Lincoln, in response to the demands of party friends everywhere,

     * "He returned to the city two years after with a fame as
     wide as the continent, with the laurels of the Douglas
     contest on his brow, and the Presidency in his grasp. He
     returned, greeted with the thunder of cannon, the strains of
     martial music, and the joyous plaudits of thousands of
     citizens thronging the streets. He addressed a vast
     concourse on Fifth Street Market; was entertained in
     princely style at the Burnet House, and there received with
     courtesy the foremost citizens come to greet this rising
     star. With high hope and happy heart he left Cincinnati
     after a three days' sojourn. But a perverse fortune attended
     him and Cincinnati in their intercourse. Nine months after
     Mr. Lincoln left us, after he had been nominated for the
     Presidency, when he was tranquilly waiting in his cottage
     home at Springfield the verdict of the people, his last
     visit to Cincinnati and the good things he had had at the
     Burnet House were rudely brought to his memory by a bill
     presented to him from its proprietors. Before leaving the
     hotel he had applied to the clerk for his bill; was told
     that it was paid, or words to that effect. This the
     committee had directed, but afterwards neglected its
     payment. The proprietors shrewdly surmised that a letter to
     the nominee for the Presidency would bring the money. The
     only significance in this incident is in the letter it
     brought from Mr. Lincoln, revealing his indignation at the
     seeming imputation against his honor, and his greater
     indignation at one item of the bill. 'As to wines, liquors,
     and cigars, we had none, absolutely none. These last may
     have been in Room 15 by order of committee, but I do not
     recollect them at all.'--W. M. Dickson, "Harper's Magazine,"
     June, 1884.

He delivered telling and impressive speeches at Cincinnati and
Columbus,* following Douglas at both places. He made such a favorable
impression among his Ohio friends that, after a glorious Republican
victory, the State committee asked the privilege of publishing his
speeches, along with those of Douglas, to be used and distributed as a
campaign document.

     * Douglas had written a long and carefully prepared article
     on "Popular Sovereignty in the Territories," which appeared
     for the first time in the September (1859) number of
     "Harper's Magazine." It went back some distance into the
     history of the government, recounting the proceedings of the
     earliest Congresses, and sought to mark out more clearly
     than had heretofore been done "the dividing line between
     Federal and Local authority." In a speech at Columbus, O,
     Lincoln answered the "copy-right essay" categorically. After
     alluding to the difference of position between himself and
     Judge Douglas on the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, he
     said: "Judge Douglas has had a good deal of trouble with
     Popular Sovereignty. His explanations, explanatory of
     explanations explained, are interminable. The most lengthy
     and, as I suppose, the most maturely considered of his long
     series of explanations is his great essay in "Harper's

This request he especially appreciated, because after some effort he
had failed to induce any publisher in Springfield to undertake the
enterprise,* thus proving anew that "a prophet is not without honor,
save in his own country." In December he visited Kansas, speaking
at Atchison, Troy, Leavenworth, and other towns near the border. His
speeches there served to extend his reputation still further westward.
Though his arguments were repetitions of the doctrine laid down in the
contest with Douglas, yet they were new to the majority of his Kansas**
hearers and were enthusiastically approved. By the close of the year he
was back again in the dingy law office in Springfield.

     * A gentleman is still living, who at the time of the debate
     between Lincoln and Douglas, was a book publisher in
     Springfield. Lincoln had collected newspaper slips of all
     the speeches made during the debate, and proposed to him
     their publication in book form; but the man declined,
     fearing there would be no demand for such a book.
     Subsequently, when the speeches were gotten out in book form
     in Ohio, Mr. Lincoln procured a copy and gave it to his
     Springfield friend, writing on the fly-leaf, "Compliments of
     A. Lincoln."

     ** How Mr. Lincoln stood on the questions of the hour, after
     his defeat by Douglas, is clearly shown in a letter written
     on the 14th of May, 1859, to a friend in Kansas, who had
     forwarded him an invitation to attend a Republican
     convention there. "You will probably adopt resolutions," he
     writes, "in the nature of a platform. I think the only
     danger will be the temptation to lower the Republican
     standard in order to gather recruits. In my judgment such a
     step would be a serious mistake, and open a gap through
     which more would pass out than pass in. And this would be
     the same whether the letting down should be in deference to
     Douglasism or to the Southern opposition element; either
     would surrender the object of the Republican organization--
     the preventing of the spread and nationalization of slavery.
     This object surrendered, the organization would go to
     pieces. I do not mean by this that no Southern man must be
     placed upon our national ticket for 1860. There are many men
     in the slave states for any one of whom I could cheerfully
     vote, to be either President or Vice-president, provided he
     would enable me to do so with safety to the Republican
     cause, without lowering the Republican standard. This is the
     indispensable condition of a union with us; it is idle to
     talk of any other. Any other would be as fruitless to the
     South as distasteful to the North, the whole ending in
     common defeat. Let a union be attempted on the basis of
     ignoring the slavery question, and magnifying other
     questions which the people are just now caring about, and it
     will result in gaining no single electoral vote in the
     South, and losing every one in the North."--MS. letter to M.
     W. Delahay.

The opening of the year 1860 found Mr. Lincoln's name freely mentioned
in connection with the Republican nomination for the Presidency. To be
classed with Seward, Chase, McLean, and other celebrities was enough to
stimulate any Illinois lawyer's pride; but in Mr. Lincoln's case, if it
had any such effect, he was most artful in concealing it. Now and then
some ardent friend, an editor, for example, would run his name up to the
mast-head, but in all cases he discouraged the attempt. "In regard to
the matter you spoke of," he answered one man who proposed his name,
"I beg that you will not give it a further mention. Seriously, I do not
think I am fit for the Presidency."*

    * Letter, March 5, 1859, to Thomas J. Pickett.

The first effort in his behalf as a Presidential aspirant was the action
taken by his friends at a meeting held in the State House early in 1860,
in the rooms of O. M. Hatch, then Secretary of State. Besides Hatch
there were present Norman B. Judd, chairman of the Republican State
Committee, Ebenezer Peck, Jackson Grimshaw, and others of equal
prominence in the party. "We all expressed a personal preference for
Mr. Lincoln," relates one who was a participant in the meeting,* "as the
Illinois candidate for the Presidency, and asked him if his name might
be used at once in connection with the nomination and election. With his
characteristic modesty he doubted whether he could get the nomination
even if he wished it, and asked until the next morning to answer us
whether his name might be announced. Late the next day he authorized
us, if we thought proper to do so, to place him in the field." To the
question from Mr. Grimshaw whether, if the nomination for President
could not be obtained, he would accept the post of Vice-president,
he answered that he would not; that his name having been used for the
office of President, he would not permit it to be used for any other
office, however honorable it might be. This meeting was preliminary to
the Decatur convention, and was also the first concerted action in his
behalf on the part of his friends.

     * Jackson Grimshaw. Letter, Quincy, Ill., April 28, 1866, MS.

In the preceding October he came rushing into the office one morning,
with the letter from New York City, inviting him to deliver a lecture
there, and asked my advice and that of other friends as to the subject
and character of his address. We all recommended a speech on the
political situation. Remembering his poor success as a lecturer himself,
he adopted our suggestions. He accepted the invitation of the New York
committee, at the same time notifying them that his speech would deal
entirely with political questions, and fixing a day late in February
as the most convenient time. Meanwhile he spent the intervening time
in careful preparation. He searched through the dusty volumes of
congressional proceedings in the State library, and dug deeply into
political history. He was painstaking and thorough in the study of
his subject, but when at last he left for New York we had many
misgivings--and he not a few himself--of his success in the great
metropolis. What effect the unpretentious Western lawyer would have
on the wealthy and fashionable society of the great city could only be
conjectured. A description of the meeting at Cooper Institute, a list
of the names of the prominent men and women present, or an account of
Lincoln in the delivery of the address would be needless repetitions of
well-known history.*

     * On his return home Lincoln told me that for once in his
     life he was greatly abashed over his personal appearance.
     The new suit of clothes which he donned on his arrival in
     New York were ill-fitting garments, and showed the creases
     made while packed in the valise; and for a long time after
     he began his speech and before he became "warmed up" he
     imagined that the audience noticed the contrast between his
     Western clothes and the neat-fitting suits of Mr. Bryant and
     others who sat on the platform. The collar of his coat on
     the right side had an unpleasant way of flying up whenever
     he raised his arm to gesticulate. He imagined the audience
     noticed that also. After the meeting closed, the newspaper
     reporters called for slips of his speech. This amused him,
     because he had no idea what slips were, and besides, didn't
     suppose the newspapers cared to print his speech verbatim.

It only remains to say that his speech was devoid of all rhetorical
imagery, with a marked sup-pression of the pyrotechnics of stump
oratory. It was constructed with a view to accuracy of statement,
simplicity of language, and unity of thought. In some respects
like a lawyer's brief, it was logical, temperate in tone,
powerful--irresistibly driving conviction home to men's reasons and
their souls. No former effort in the line of speech-making had cost
Lincoln so much time and thought as this one. It is said by one of his
biographers, that those afterwards engaged in getting out the speech
as a campaign document were three weeks in verifying the statements and
finding the historical records referred to and consulted by him. This is
probably a little over-stated as to time, but unquestionably the work of
verification and reference, was in any event a very labored and extended
one.* The day following the Cooper Institute meeting, the leading New
York dailies published the speech in full, and made favorable editorial
mention of it and of the speaker as well. It was plain now that Lincoln
had captured the metropolis. From New York he travelled to New England
to visit his son Robert, who was attending college.

     * Mr. Lincoln obtained most of the facts of his Cooper
     Institute speech from Eliott's "Debates on the Federal
     Constitution." There were six volumes, which he gave to me
     when he went to Washington in 1861.

In answer to the many calls and invitations which showered on him, he
spoke at various places in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.
In all these places he not only left deep impressions of his ability,
but he convinced New England of his intense earnestness in the great
cause. The newspapers treated him with no little consideration. One
paper* characterized his speech as one of "great fairness," delivered
with "great apparent candor and wonderful interest. For the first half
hour his opponents would agree with every word he uttered; and from that
point he would lead them off little by little until it seemed as if he
had got them all into his fold. He is far from prepossessing in
personal appearance, and his Voice is disagreeable; and yet he wins your
attention from the start.. He indulges in no flowers of rhetoric, no
eloquent passages.... He displays more shrewdness, more knowledge of the
masses of mankind than any public speaker we have heard since Long Jim
Wilson left for California."

     * Manchester Mirror.

Lincoln's return to Springfield after his dazzling success in the East
was the signal for earnest congratulations on the part of his friends.
Seward was the great man of the day, but Lincoln had demonstrated to the
satisfaction of his friends that he was tall enough and strong enough
to measure swords with the Auburn statesman. His triumph in New York and
New England had shown that the idea of a house divided against itself
induced as strong cooperation and hearty support in prevention of a
great wrong in the East as the famous "irrepressible conflict" attracted
warriors to Seward's standard in the Mississippi valley. It was apparent
now to Lincoln that the Presidential nomination was within his reach.
He began gradually to lose his interest in the law and to trim his
political sails at the same time. His recent success had stimulated his
self-confidence to unwonted proportions. He wrote to influential party
workers everywhere. I know the idea prevails that Lincoln sat still in
his chair in Springfield, and that one of those unlooked-for tides in
human affairs came along and cast the nomination into his lap; but any
man who has had experience in such things knows that great political
prizes are not obtained in that way. The truth is, Lincoln was as
vigilant as he was ambitious, and there is no denying the fact that he
understood the situation perfectly from the start. In the management
of his own interests he was obliged to rely almost entirely on his own
resources. He had no money with which to maintain a political bureau,
and he lacked any kind of personal organization whatever. Seward had
all these things, and, behind them all, a brilliant record in the United
States Senate with which to dazzle his followers. But with all his
prestige and experience the latter was no more adroit and no more
untiring in pursuit of his ambition than the man who had just delivered
the Cooper Institute speech. A letter written by Lincoln about this time
to a friend in Kansas serves to illustrate his methods, and measures the
extent of his ambition.

[Illustration: Letter to Kansas delegate 196]

The letter is dated March 10, and is now in my possession. For obvious
reasons I withhold the friend's name: "As to your kind wishes for
myself," writes Lincoln, "allow me to say I cannot enter the ring on
the money basis--first, because in the main it is wrong; and secondly, I
have not and cannot get the money. I say in the main the use of money is
wrong; but for certain objects in a political contest the use of some
is both right and indispensable. With me, as with yourself, this long
struggle has been one of great pecuniary loss. I now distinctly say
this: If you shall be appointed a delegate to Chicago I will furnish one
hundred dollars to bear the expenses of the trip." There is enough
in this letter to show that Lincoln was not only determined in his
political ambition, but intensely practical as well. His eye was
constantly fastened on Seward, who had already freely exercised the
rights of leadership in the party. All other competitors he dropped
out of the problem. In the middle of April he again writes his Kansas
friend: "Reaching home last night I found yours of the 7th. You know I
was recently in New England. Some of the acquaintances while there
write me since the election that the close vote in Connecticut and
the quasi-defeat in Rhode Island are a drawback upon the prospects of
Governor Seward; and Trumbull writes Dubois to the same effect. Do not
mention this as coming from me. Both these States are safe enough in
the fall." But, while Seward may have lost ground near his home, he
was acquiring strength in the West. He had invaded the very territory
Lincoln was intending to retain by virtue of his course in the contest
with Douglas. Lincoln's friend in Kansas, instead of securing that
delegation for him, had suffered the Seward men to outgeneral him, and
the prospects were by no means flattering. "I see by the dispatches,"
writes Lincoln, in a burst of surprise, "that, since you wrote, Kansas
has appointed delegates and instructed for Seward. Don't stir them up
to anger, but come along to the convention and I will do as I said about
expenses." Whether the friend ever accepted Lincoln's generous offer I
do not know,* but it may not be without interest to state that within
ten days after the latter's inauguration he appointed him to a Federal
office with comfortable salary attached, and even asked for his
preferences as to other contemplated appointments in his own State.**

     * This case illustrates quite forcibly Lincoln's weakness in
     dealing with individuals. This man I know had written
     Lincoln, promising to bring the Kansas delegation to Chicago
     for him if he would only pay his expenses. Lincoln was weak
     enough to make the promise, and yet such was his faith in
     the man that he appointed him to an important judicial
     position and gave him great prominence in other ways. What
     President or candidate for President would dare do such a
     thing now?

     ** The following is in my possession:

     "Executive Mansion, March 13,1861.

     "------, Esq.

     "My Dear Sir:

     "You will start for Kansas before I see you again; and when
     I saw you a moment this morning I forgot to ask you about
     some of the Kansas appointments, which I intended to do. If
     you care much about them you can write, as I think I shall
     not make the appointments just yet.

     "Yours in haste,

     "A. Lincoln."

In the rapid, stirring scenes that crowd upon each other from this time
forward the individuality of Lincoln is easily lost sight of. He was so
thoroughly interwoven in the issues before the people of Illinois that
he had become a part of them. Among his colleagues at the bar he was no
longer looked upon as the Circuit-Court lawyer of earlier days. To them
it seemed as if the nation were about to lay its claim upon him. His
tall form enlarged, until, to use a figurative expression, he could no
longer pass through the door of our dingy office. Reference has already
been made to the envy of his rivals at the bar, and the jealousy of his
political contemporaries. Very few indeed were free from the degrading
passion; but it made no difference in Lincoln's treatment of them. He
was as generous and deferred to them as much as ever. The first public
movement by the Illinois people in his interest was the action of the
State convention, which met at Decatur on the 9th and 10th of May. It
was at this convention that Lincoln's friend and cousin, John Hanks,
brought in the two historic rails which both had made in the Sangamon
bottom in 1830, and which served the double purpose of electrifying the
Illinois people and kindling the fire of enthusiasm that was destined
to sweep over the nation. In the words of an ardent Lincoln delegate,
"These rails were to represent the issue in the coming contest between
labor free and labor slave; between democracy and aristocracy. Little
did I think," continues our jubilant and effusive friend, "of the mighty
consequences of this little incident; little did I think that the tall,
and angular, and bony rail-splitter who stood in girlish diffidence
bowing with awkward grace would fill the chair once filled by
Washington, and that his name would echo in chants of praise along the
corridor of all coming time." A week later the hosts were gathered for
the great convention in Chicago. David Davis had rented rooms in the
Tremont House and opened up "Lincoln's headquarters." I was not a
delegate, but belonged to the contingent which had Lincoln's interests
in charge. Judge Logan was the Springfield delegate, and to him Lincoln
had given a letter authorizing the withdrawal of his name whenever his
friends deemed such action necessary or proper. Davis was the active
man, and had the business management in charge. If any negotiations were
made, he made them. The convention was held in a monster building
called the Wigwam. No one who has ever attempted a description of it
has overdrawn its enthusiasm and exciting scenes. Amid all the din
and confusion, the curbstone contentions, the promiscuous wrangling
of delegates, the deafening roar of the assembled hosts, the contest
narrowed down to a neck-and-neck race between the brilliant statesman
of Auburn and the less pretentious, but manly rail-splitter from the
Sangamon bottoms. With the proceedings of the convention the world is
already well familiar. On the first ballot Seward led, but was closely
followed by Lincoln; on the second Lincoln gained amazingly; on the
third the race was an even one until the dramatic change by Carter,
of Ohio, when Lincoln, swinging loose, swept grandly to the front. The
cannon planted on the roof of the Wigwam belched forth a boom across the
Illinois prairies. The sound was taken up and reverberated from Maine to
California. With the nomination of Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, the
convention adjourned. The delegates--victorious and vanquished alike--
turned their steps homeward, and the great campaign of 1860 had begun.
The day before the nomination the editor of the Springfield _Journal_
arrived in Chicago with a copy of the Missouri _Democrat_, in which
Lincoln had marked three passages referring to Seward's position on the
slavery question. On the margin of the paper he had written in pencil,
"I agree with Seward in his 'Irrepressible Conflict,' but I do not
endorse his 'Higher Law' doctrine." Then he added in words underscored,
"Make no contracts that will bind me." This paper was brought into the
room where Davis, Judd, Logan, and I were gathered, and was read to us.
But Lincoln was down in Springfield, some distance away from Chicago,
and could therefore not appreciate the gravity of the situation; at
least so Davis argued, and, viewing it in that light, the latter went
ahead with his negotiations. What the consequences of these deals were
will appear later on. The new's of his nomination found Lincoln at
Springfield in the office of the _Journal_. Naturally enough he was
nervous, restless, and laboring under more or loss suppressed
excitement. He had been tossing ball--a pastime frequently indulged in
by the lawyers of that day, and had played a few games of billiards to
keep down, as another has expressed it "the unnatural excitement that
threatened to possess him." When the telegram containing the result of
the last ballot came in, although apparently calm and undisturbed, a
close observer could have detected in the compressed lip and serious
countenance evidences of deep and unusual emotion. As the balloting
progressed he had gone to the office of the _Journal_, and was sitting
in a large arm-chair there when the news of his nomination came. What a
line of scenes, stretching from the barren glade in Kentucky to the
jubilant and enthusiastic throng in the Wigwam at Chicago, must have
broken in upon his vision as he hastened from the newspaper office to
"tell a little woman down the street the news!" In the evening his
friends and neighbors called to congratulate him. He thanked them
feelingly and shook them each by the hand. A day later the committee
from the convention, with George Ashmun, of Massachusetts, at its head,
called, and delivered formal notice of his nomination. This meeting took
place at his house. His response was couched in polite and dignified
language, and many of the committee, who now met him for the first time,
departed with an improved impression of the new standard-bearer. A few
days later he wrote his official letter of acceptance, in which he
warmly endorsed the resolutions of the convention. His actions and
utterances so far had begun to dissipate the erroneous notion prevalent
in some of the more remote Eastern States, that he was more of a
backwoods boor than a gentleman; but with the arrival of the campaign in
dead earnest, people paid less attention to the candidates and more to
the great issues at stake. Briefly stated, the Republican platform was a
declaration that "the new dogma, that the Constitution carries slavery
into all the Territories, is a dangerous political heresy, revolutionary
in tendency and subversive of the peace and harmony of the country; that
the normal condition of all the Territories is that of freedom; that
neither Congress, the territorial legislature, nor any individual can
give legal existence to slavery in any territory; that the opening of
the slave trade would be a crime against humanity." Resolutions favoring
a homestead law, river and harbor improvements, and the Pacific railroad
were also included in the platform. With these the Republicans, as a
lawyer would say, went to the country. The campaign which followed was
one with few parallels in American history. There was not only the
customary exultation and enthusiasm over candidates, but there was
patient listening and hard thinking among the masses. The slavery
question, it was felt, must soon be decided. Threats of disunion were
the texts of many a campaign speech in the South: in fact, as has since
been shown, a deep laid conspiracy to overthrow the Union was then
forming, and was only awaiting the election of a Republican President to
show its hideous head. The Democratic party was struggling under the
demoralizing effects of a split, in which even the Buchanan
administration had taken sides. Douglas, the nominee of one wing, in his
desperation had entered into the canvass himself, making speeches with
all the power and eloquence at his command. The Republicans, cheered
over the prospect, had joined hands with the Abolitionists, and both
were marching to victory under the inspiration of Lincoln's sentiment,
that "the further spread of slavery should be arrested, and it should be
placed where the public mind shall rest in the belief of its ultimate

As the canvass advanced and waxed warm I tendered my services and made a
number of speeches in the central part of the State. I remember, in
the midst of a speech at Petersburg, and just as I was approaching an
oratorical climax, a man out of breath came rushing up to me and thrust
a message into my hand. I was somewhat frustrated and greatly alarmed,
fearing it might contain news of some accident in my family; but great
was my relief when I read it, which I did aloud. It was a message from
Lincoln, telling me to be be of good cheer, that Ohio, Pennsylvania, and
Indiana had gone Republican.*

     * The handwriting of the note was a little tremulous,
     showing that Lincoln was excited and nervous when he wrote
     it. Following is a copy of the original MS.:

     "Springfield, Ill., October 10, 1860.

     "Dear William: I cannot give you details, but it is entirely
     certain that Pennsylvania and Indiana have gone Republican
     very largely. Pennsylvania 25,000, and Indiana 5000 to
     10,000. Ohio of course is safe.

     "Yours as ever,

     "A. Lincoln."

These were then October States, and this was the first gun for the great
cause. It created so much demonstration, such a burst of enthusiasm and
confusion, that the crowd forgot they had any speaker; they ran yelling
and hurrahing out of the hall, and I never succeeded in finishing the

As soon as officially notified of his nomination* Mr. Lincoln moved his
headquarters from our office to a room in the State House building,
and there, with his secretary, John G. Nicolay, he spent the busy and
exciting days of his campaign. Of course he attended to no law business,
but still he loved to come to our office of evenings, and spend an hour
with a few choice friends in a friendly privacy which was denied him
at his public quarters. These were among the last meetings we had with
Lincoln as our friend and fellow at the bar; and they are also the most
delightful recollections any of us have retained of him.**

     * Following is Lincoln's letter of acceptance:

     "Springfield, III., June 23, 1860.

     "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, acting as a committee of
     the convention for that purpose. The declaration of
     principles which accompanies 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,
     prosperity, and harmony of all, I am most happy to cooperate
     for the practical success of the principles declared by the

     "Your obliged friend and fellow-citizen,

     "Abraham Lincoln."

     "Hon. George Ashmun."

     ** One of what Lincoln regarded as the remarkable features
     of his canvass for President was the attitude of some of his
     neighbors in Springfield. A poll of the voters had been made
     in a little book and given to him. On running over the names
     he found that the greater part of the clergy of the city--in
     fact all but three--were against him. This depressed him
     somewhat, and he called in Dr. Newton Bateman, who as
     Superintendent of Public Instruction occupied the room
     adjoining his own in the State House, and whom he
     'habitually addressed as "Mr. Schoolmaster." He commented
     bitterly on the attitude of the preachers and many of their
     followers, who, pretending to be believers in the Bible and
     God-fearing Christians, yet by their votes demonstrated that
     they cared not whether slavery was voted up or down. "God
     cares and humanity cares," he reflected, "and if they do not
     they surely have not read their Bible aright."

At last the turmoil and excitement and fatigue of the campaign were
over: the enthusiastic political workers threw aside their campaign
uniforms, the boys blew out their torches, and the voter approached the
polls with his ballot. On the morning of election day I stepped in to
see Mr. Lincoln, and was surprised to learn that he did not intend to
cast his vote. I knew of course that he did so because of a feeling that
the candidate for a Presidential office ought not to vote for his own
electors; but when I suggested the plan of cutting off the Presidential
electors and voting for the State officers, he was struck with the idea,
and at last consented. His appearance at the polls, accompanied by Ward
Lamon, the lamented young Ellsworth, and myself, was the occasion of no
little surprise because of the general impression which prevailed that
he did not intend to vote. The crowd around the polls opened a gap as
the distinguished voter approached, and some even removed their hats
as he deposited his ticket and announced in a subdued voice his name,
"Abraham Lincoln."

The election was held on the 6th of November. The result showed a
popular vote of 1,857,610 for Lincoln; 1,291,574 for Douglas; 850,022
for Breckenridge; and 646,124 for Bell. In the electoral college Lincoln
received 180 votes, Breckenridge 72, Bell 39, and Douglas 12.* Mr.
Lincoln having now been elected, there remained, before taking up the
reins of government, the details of his departure from Springfield, and
the selection of a cabinet.

     * Lincoln electors were chosen in seventeen of the free
     States, as follows: Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts,
     Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania,
     Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota,
     Iowa, California, Oregon; and in one State,--New Jersey,--
     owing to a fusion between Democrats, Lincoln secured four
     and Douglas three of the electors. Alabama, Arkansas,
     Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland,
     Mississippi, North, and South Carolina, and Texas went for
     Breckenridge; Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia for Bell;
     while Douglas secured only one entire State--Missouri.


[Illustration: Portrait of Lincoln in 1860 209]

The election over, Mr. Lincoln scarcely had time enough to take a breath
until another campaign and one equally trying, so far as a test of his
constitution and nerves was concerned, as the one through which he
had just passed, opened up before him. I refer to the siege of the
cabinet-makers and office-seekers. It proved to be a severe and
protracted strain and one from which there seemed to be no relief, as
the President-elect of this renowned democratic Government is by custom
and precedent expected to meet and listen to everybody who calls to
see him. "Individuals, deputations, and delegations," says one of Mr.
Lincoln's biographers, "from all quarters pressed in upon him in a
manner that might have killed a man of less robust constitution. The
hotels of Springfield were filled with gentlemen who came with light
baggage and heavy schemes. The party had never been in office. A clean
sweep of the 'ins' was expected, and all the 'outs' were patriotically
anxious to take the vacant places. It was a party that had never fed;
and it was voraciously hungry. Mr. Lincoln and Artemus Ward saw a great
deal of fun in it; and in all human probability it was the fun alone
that enabled Mr. Lincoln to bear it."

His own election of course disposed of any claims Illinois might have
had to any further representation in the cabinet, but it afforded Mr.
Lincoln no relief from the argumentative interviews and pressing claims
of the endless list of ambitious statesmen in the thirty-two other
states, who swarmed into Springfield from every point of the compass. He
told each one of them a story, and even if he failed to put their names
on his slate they went away without knowing that fact, and never forgot
the visit.*

     * A newspaper correspondent who had been sent down from
     Chicago to "write up" Mr. Lincoln soon after his nomination,
     was kind enough several years ago to furnish me with an
     account of his visit. As some of his reminiscences are more
     or less interesting, I take the liberty of inserting a
     portion of his letter. "A what-not in the corner of the
     room," he relates, "was laden with various kinds of shells.
     Taking one in my hand, I said, 'This, I suppose, is called a
     Trocus by the geologist or naturalist.' Mr. Lincoln paused a
     moment as if reflecting and then replied, 'I do not know,
     for I never studied either geology or natural history.' I
     then took to examining the few pictures that hung on the
     walls, and was paying more than ordinary attention to one
     that hung above, the sofa. He was immediately at my left and
     pointing to it said, 'That picture gives a very fair
     representation of my homely face.'... The time for my
     departure nearing, I made the usual apologies and started to
     go. 'You cannot get out of the town before a quarter past
     eleven,' remonstrated Mr. Lincoln, 'and you may as well stay
     a little longer.' Under pretence of some unfinished matters
     down town, however, I very reluctantly withdrew from the
     mansion. 'Well,' said Mr. Lincoln, as we passed into the
     hall, 'suppose you come over to the State House before you
     start for Chicago.' After a moment's deliberation I promised
     to do so. Mr. Lincoln, following without his hat, and
     continuing the conversation, shook hands across the gate,
     saying, 'Now, come over.' I wended my way to my hotel, and
     after a brief period was in his office at the State House.
     Resuming conversation, he said, 'If the man comes with the
     key before you go, I want to give you a book.' I certainly
     hoped the man would come with the key. Some conversation had
     taken place at the house on which his book treated,--but I
     had forgotten this,--and soon Mr. Lincoln absented himself
     for perhaps two minutes and returned with a copy of the
     debates between himself and Judge Douglas. He placed the
     book on his knee, as he sat back on two legs of his chair,
     and wrote on the fly-leaf, 'J. S. Bliss, from A. Lincoln.'
     Besides this he marked a complete paragraph near the middle
     of the book. While sitting in the position described little
     Willie, his son, came in and begged his father for twenty-
     five cents. 'My son,' said the father, 'what do you want
     with twenty-five cents?' 'I want it to buy candy with,'
     cried the boy. 'I cannot give you twenty-five cents, my son,
     but will give you five cents,' at the same time putting his
     thumb and finger into his vest pocket and taking therefrom
     five cents in silver, which he placed upon the desk before
     the boy. But this did not reach Willie's expectations; he
     scorned the pile, and turning away clambered down-stairs and
     through the spacious halls of the Capitol, leaving behind
     him his five cents and a distinct reverberation of sound.
     Mr. Lincoln turned to me and said, 'He will be back after
     that in a few minutes.' 'Why do you think so?' said I.
     'Because, as soon as he finds I will give him no more he
     will come and get it.' After the matter had been nearly
     forgotten and conversation had turned in an entirely
     different channel, Willie came cautiously in behind my chair
     and that of his father, picked up the specie, and went away
     without saying a word."--J. S. Bliss, letter, Jan. 29, 1867,

He had a way of pretending to assure his visitor that in the choice of
his advisers he was "free to act as his judgment dictated," although
David Davis, acting as his manager at the Chicago convention, had
negotiated with the Indiana and Pennsylvania delegations, and assigned
places in the cabinet to Simon Cameron and Caleb Smith, besides making
other "arrangements" which Mr. Lincoln was expected to ratify. Of this
he was undoubtedly aware, although in answer to a letter from Joshua R.
Giddings, of Ohio, congratulating him on his nomination, he said,*

     * Letter, May 21st, 1860, MS.

"It is indeed most grateful to my feelings that the responsible position
assigned me comes without conditions." Out of regard to the dignity
of the exalted station he was about to occupy, he was not as free in
discussing the matter of his probable appointments with some of his
personal friends as they had believed he would be. In one or two
instances, I remember, the latter were offended at his seeming disregard
of the claims of old friendship. My advice was not asked for on such
grave subjects, nor had I any right or reason to believe it would
be; hence I never felt slighted or offended. On some occasions in our
office, when Mr. Lincoln had come across from the State House for a
rest or a chat with me, he would relate now and then some
circumstance--generally an amusing one--connected with the settlement
of the cabinet problem, but it was said in such a way that one would
not have felt free to interrogate him about his plans. Soon after his
election I received from my friend Joseph Medill, of Chicago, a letter
which argued strongly against the appointment of Simon Cameron to a
place in the cabinet, and which the writer desired I should bring to Mr.
Lincoln's attention. I awaited a favorable opportunity, and one evening
when we were alone in our office I gave it to him. It was an eloquent
protest against the appointment of a corrupt and debased man, and coming
from the source it did--the writer being one of Lincoln's best newspaper
supporters--made a deep impression on him. Lincoln read it over several
times, but refrained from expressing any opinion. He did say however
that he felt himself under no promise or obligation to appoint anyone;
that if his friends made any agreements for him they did so over his
expressed direction and without his knowledge. At another time he said
that he wanted to give the South, by way of placation, a place in his
cabinet; that a fair division of the country entitled the Southern
States to a reasonable representation there, and if not interfered
with he would make such a distribution as would satisfy all persons
interested. He named three persons who would be acceptable to him.
They were Botts, of Virginia; Stephens, of Georgia; and Maynard, of
Tennessee. He apprehended no such grave danger to the Union as the mass
of people supposed would result from Southern threats, and said he could
not in his heart believe that the South designed the overthrow of the
Government. This is the extent of my conversation about the cabinet.
Thurlow Weed, the veteran in journalism and politics, came out from
New York and spent several days with Lincoln. He was not only the
representative of Senator Seward, but rendered the President-elect
signal service in the formation of his cabinet. In his autobiography Mr.
Weed relates numerous incidents of this visit. He was one day opposing
the claims of Montgomery Blair, who aspired to a cabinet appointment,
when Mr. Lincoln inquired of Weed whom he would recommend. "Henry Winter
Davis," was the response. "David Davis, I see, has been posting you up
on this question," retorted Lincoln. "He has Davis on the brain. I think
Maryland must be a good State to move from." The President then told a
story of a witness in court in a neighboring county, who on being asked
his age replied, "Sixty." Being satisfied he was much older the question
was repeated, and on receiving the same answer, the court admonished the
witness, saying, "The court knows you to be much older than sixty."
"Oh, I understand now," was the rejoinder; "you're thinking of those ten
years I spent on the eastern shore of Maryland; that was so much time
lost and don't count." Before Mr. Lincoln's departure from Springfield,
people who knew him personally were frequently asked what sort of man he
was. I received many letters, generally from the Eastern States, showing
that much doubt still existed in the minds of the people whether he
would prove equal to the great task that lay in store for him. Among
others who wrote me on the subject was the Hon. Henry Wilson, late
Vice-president of the United States, whom I had met during my visit to
Washington in the spring of 1858. Two years after Mr. Lincoln's death,
Mr. Wilson wrote me as follows: "I have just finished reading your
letter dated December 21, 1860, in answer to a letter of mine asking you
to give me your opinion of the President just elected. In this letter
to me you say of Mr. Lincoln what more than four years of observation
confirmed. After stating that you had been his law partner for over
eighteen years and his most intimate and bosom friend all that time you
say, 'I know him better than he does himself. I know this seems a little
strong, but I risk the assertion. Lincoln is a man of heart--aye, as
gentle as a woman's and as tender--but he has a will strong as iron. He
therefore loves all mankind, hates slavery and every form of despotism.
Put these together--love for the slave, and a determination, a will,
that justice, strong and unyielding, shall be done when he has the right
to act, and you can form your own conclusion. Lincoln will fail here,
namely, if a question of political economy--if any question comes up
which is doubtful, questionable, which no man can demonstrate, then his
friends can rule him; but when on justice, right, liberty, the
Government, the Constitution, and the Union, then you may all stand
aside: he will rule then, and no man can move him--no set of men can do
it. There is no fail here. This is Lincoln, and you mark my prediction.
You and I must keep the people right; God will keep Lincoln right.'
These words of yours made a deep impression upon my mind, and I came to
love and trust him even before I saw him. After an acquaintance of more
than four years I found that your idea of him was in all respects
correct--that he was the loving, tender, firm, and just man you
represented him to be; while upon some questions in which moral elements
did not so clearly enter he was perhaps too easily influenced by others.
Mr. Lincoln was a genuine democrat in feelings, sentiments, and actions.
How patiently and considerately he listened amid the terrible pressure
of public affairs to the people who thronged his ante-room! I remember
calling upon him one day daring the war on pressing business. The ante-
room was crowded with men and women seeking admission. He seemed
oppressed, careworn, and weary, I said to him, 'Mr. President, you are
too exhausted to see this throng waiting to see you; you will wear
yourself out and ought not see these people today.' He replied, with one
of those smiles in which sadness seemed to mingle, 'They don't want
much; they get but little, and I must see them.' During the war his
heart was oppressed and his life burdened with the conflict between the
tenderness of his nature and what seemed to be the imperative demands of
duty. In the darkest hours of the conflict desertions from the army were
frequent, and army officers urgently pressed the execution of the
sentences of the law; but it was with the greatest effort that he would
bring himself to consent to the execution of the judgment of the
military tribunals. I remember calling early one sabbath morning with a
wounded Irish officer, who came to Washington to say that a soldier who
had been sentenced to be shot in a day or two for desertion had fought
gallantly by his side in battle. I told Mr. Lincoln we had come to ask
him to pardon the poor soldier. After a few moments' reflection he said,
'My officers tell me the good of the service demands the enforcement of
the law; but it makes my heart ache to have the poor fellows shot. I
will pardon this soldier, and then you will all join in blaming me for
it. You censure me for granting pardons, and yet you all ask me to do
so.' I say again, no man had a more loving and tender nature than Mr.

Before departing for Washington Mr. Lincoln went to Chicago* for a few
days' stay, and there by previous arrangement met his old friend, Joshua
F. Speed. Both were accompanied by their wives, and while the latter
were out shopping the two husbands repaired to Speed's room at the
hotel. "For an hour or more," relates Speed, "we lived over again the
scenes of other days. Finally Lincoln threw himself on the bed, and
fixing his eyes on a spot in the ceiling asked me this question, 'Speed,
what is your pecuniary condition? are you rich or poor?' I answered,
addressing him by his new title, 'Mr. President, I think I can
anticipate what you are going to say. I'll speak candidly to you on the
subject. My pecuniary condition is satisfactory to me now; you would
perhaps call it good. I do not think you have within your gift any
office I could afford to take.' Mr. Lincoln then proposed to make
Guthrie, of Kentucky, Secretary of War, but did not want to write to
him--asked me to feel of him. I did as requested, but the Kentucky
statesman declined on the ground of his advanced age, and consequent
physical inability to fill the position. He gave substantial assurance
of his loyal sentiments, however, and insisted that the Union should be
preserved at all hazards."

     * A lady called one day at the hotel where the Lincolns were
     stopping in Chicago to take Mrs. Lincoln out for a promenade
     or a drive. She was met in the parlor by Mr. Lincoln, who,
     after a hurried trip upstairs to ascertain the cause of the
     delay in his wife's appearance, returned with the report
     that "She will be down as soon as she has all her trotting
     harness on."

Late in January Mr. Lincoln informed me that he was ready to begin the
preparation of his inaugural address. He had, aside from his law books
and the few gilded volumes that ornamented the centre-table in his
parlor at home, comparatively no library. He never seemed to care to own
or collect books. On the other hand I had a very respectable collection,
and was adding to it every day. To my library Lincoln very frequently
had access. When, therefore, he began on his inaugural speech he told me
what works he intended to consult. I looked for a long list, but when
he went over it I was greatly surprised. He asked me to furnish him
with Henry Clay's great speech delivered in 1850; Andrew Jackson's
proclamation against Nullification; and a copy of the Constitution. He
afterwards called for Webster's reply to Hayne, a speech which he read
when he lived at New Salem, and which he always regarded as the grandest
specimen of American oratory. With these few "volumes," and no further
sources of reference, he locked himself up in a room upstairs over a
store across the street from the State House, and there, cut off
from all communication and intrusion, he prepared the address. Though
composed amid the unromantic surroundings of a dingy, dusty, and
neglected back room, the speech has become a memorable document.
Posterity will assign to it a high rank among historical utterances; and
it will ever bear comparison with the efforts of Washington, Jefferson,
Adams, or any that preceded its delivery from the steps of the national

After Mr. Lincoln's rise to national prominence, and especially since
his death, I have often been asked if I did not write this or that paper
for him; if I did not prepare or help prepare some of his speeches. I
know that other and abler friends of Lincoln have been asked the same
question.* To people who made such enquiries I always responded, "You
don't understand Mr. Lincoln. No man ever asked less aid then he; his
confidence in his own ability to meet the requirements of every hour
was so marked that his friends never thought of tendering their aid, and
therefore no one could share his responsibilities. I never wrote a line
for him; he never asked me to. I was never conscious of having
exerted any influence over him. He often called out my views on
some philosophical question, simply because I was a fond student of
philosophy, and conceding that I had given the subject more attention
than he; he often asked as to the use of a word or the turn of a
sentence, but if I volunteered to recommend or even suggest a change
of language which involved a change of sentiment I found him the most
inflexible man I have ever seen."

     * "I know it was the general impression in Washington that
     I knew all about Lincoln's plans and ideas, but the truth
     is, I knew nothing. He never confided to me anything of his
     purposes."--David Davis, statement, September 20, 1866.

One more duty--an act of filial devotion--remained to be done before
Abraham Lincoln could announce his readiness to depart for the city of
Washington--a place from which it was unfortunately decreed he should
never return. In the first week of February he slipped quietly away
from Springfield and rode to Farmington in Coles County, where his aged
step-mother was still living. Here, in the little country village, he
met also the surviving members of the Hanks and Johnston families. He
visited the grave of his father, old Thomas Lincoln, which had been
unmarked and neglected for almost a decade, and left directions that a
suitable stone should be placed there to mark the spot. Retracing his
steps in the direction of Springfield he stopped over-night in the town
of Charleston, where he made a brief address, recalling many of his
boyhood exploits, in the public hall. In the audience were many persons
who had known him first as the stalwart young ox-driver when his
father's family drove into Illinois from southern Indiana. One man had
brought with him a horse which the President-elect, in the earlier days
of his law practice, had recovered for him in a replevin suit; another
one was able to recite from personal recollection the thrilling details
of the famous wrestling match between Lincoln the flat-boatman in 1830
and Daniel Needham; and all had some reminiscence of his early manhood
to relate. The separation from his step-mother was particularly

     * Lincoln's love for his second mother was a most filial and
     affectionate one. His letters show that he regarded the
     relation truly as that of mother and son. November 4, 1851,
     he writes her after the death of his father:

     "Dear Mother:

     "Chapman tells me he wants you to go and live with him. If I
     were you I would try it awhile. If you get tired of it (as I
     think you will not) you can return to your own home. Chapman
     feels very kindly to you; and I have no doubt he will make
     your situation very pleasant.

     "Sincerely your son,

     "A. Lincoln."

On the 9th of the same month he writes his step-brother John D.
Johnston: "If the land can be sold so that I can get three hundred
dollars to put to interest for mother I will not object if she does not.
But before I will make a deed the money must be had, or secured beyond
all doubt at ten per cent."

The parting, when the good old woman, with tears streaming down her
cheeks, gave him a mother's benediction, expressing the fear that his
life might be taken by his enemies, will never be forgotten by those
who witnessed it. Deeply impressed by this farewell scene Mr. Lincoln
reluctantly withdrew from the circle of warm friends who crowded around
him, and, filled with gloomy forebodings of the future, returned to
Springfield. The great questions of state having been pretty well
settled in his own mind, and a few days yet remaining before his final
departure, his neighbors and old friends called to take leave of him and
pay their "best respects." Many of these callers were from New Salem,
where he had made his start in life, and each one had some pleasant
or amusing incident of earlier days to call up when they met. Hannah
Armstrong, who had "foxed" his trowsers with buckskin in the days when
he served as surveyor under John Calhoun, and whose son Lincoln had
afterwards acquitted in the trial for murder at Beardstown, gave
positive evidence of the interest she took in his continued rise in the

She bade him good-bye, but was filled with a presentiment that she would
never see him alive again. "Hannah," he said, jovially, "if they do kill
me I shall never die again." Isaac Cogsdale, another New Salem pioneer,
came, and to him Lincoln again admitted his love for the unfortunate
Anne Rutledge. Cogsdale afterwards told me of this interview. It
occurred late in the afternoon. Mr. Nicolay, the secretary, had gone
home, and the throng of visitors had ceased for the day. Lincoln asked
about all the early families of New Salem, calling up the peculiarities
of each as he went over the list. Of the Rutledges he said: "I have
loved the name of Rutledge to this day. I have kept my mind on their
movements ever since." Of Anne he spoke with some feeling: "I loved her
dearly. She was a handsome girl, would have made a good, loving wife;
she was natural, and quite intellectual, though not highly educated. I
did honestly and truly love the girl, and think often of her now."

Early in February the last item of preparation for the journey to
Washington had been made. Mr. Lincoln had disposed of his household
goods and furniture to a neighbor, had rented his house; and as these
constituted all the property he owned in Illinois there was no further
occasion for concern on that score. In the afternoon of his last day in
Springfield he came down to our office to examine some papers and
confer with me about certain legal matters in which he still felt some
interest. On several previous occasions he had told me he was coming
over to the office "to have a long talk with me," as he expressed it. We
ran over the books and arranged for the completion of all unsettled
and unfinished matters. In some cases he had certain requests to
make--certain lines of procedure he wished me to observe. After these
things were all disposed of he crossed to the opposite side of the room
and threw himself down on the old office sofa, which, after many years
of service, had been moved against the wall for support. He lay for some
moments, his face towards the ceiling, without either of us speaking.
Presently he inquired, "Billy,"--he always called me by that name,--"how
long have we been together?" "Over sixteen years," I answered. "We've
never had a cross word during all that time, have we?" to which I
returned a vehement, "No, indeed we have not." He then recalled some
incidents of his early practice and took great pleasure in delineating
the ludicrous features of many a lawsuit on the circuit. It was at this
last interview in Springfield that he told me of the efforts that had
been made by other lawyers to supplant me in the partnership with him.
He insisted that such men were weak creatures, who, to use his own
language, "hoped to secure a law practice by hanging to his coat-tail."
I never saw him in a more cheerful mood. He gathered a bundle of books
and papers he wished to take with him and started to go; but before
leaving he made the strange request that the sign-board which swung on
its rusty hinges at the foot of the stairway should remain. "Let it hang
there undisturbed,"* he said, with a significant lowering of his voice.
"Give our clients to understand that the election of a President makes
no change in the firm of Lincoln and Herndon. If I live I'm coming back
some time, and then we'll go right on practising law as if nothing had
ever happened." He lingered for a moment as if to take a last look
at the old quarters, and then passed through the door into the narrow
hallway. I accompanied him downstairs. On the way he spoke of the
unpleasant features surrounding the Presidential office. "I am sick of
office-holding already," he complained, "and I shudder when I think of
the tasks that are still ahead." He said the sorrow of parting from his
old associations was deeper than most persons would imagine, but it
was more marked in his case because of the feeling which had become
irrepressible that he would never return alive. I argued against the
thought, characterizing it as an illusory notion not in harmony or
keeping with the popular ideal of a President. "But it is in keeping
with my philosophy," was his quick retort. Our conversation was
frequently broken in upon by the interruptions of passers-by, who, each
in succession, seemed desirous of claiming his attention. At length he
broke away from them all. Grasping my hand warmly and with a fervent
"Good-bye," he disappeared down the street, and never came back to the
office again. On the morning following this last interview, the 11th
day of February, the Presidential party repaired to the railway station,
where the train which was to convey them to Washington awaited the
ceremony of departure.

     * In answer to the many inquiries made of me, I will say
     here that during this last interview Mr. Lincoln, for the
     first time, brought up the subject of an office under his
     administration. He asked me if I desired an appointment at
     his hands, and, if so, what I wanted. I answered that I had
     no desire for a Federal office, that I was then holding the
     office of Bank Commissioner of Illinois under appointment of
     Governor Bissel, and that if he would request my retention
     in office by Yates, the incoming Governor, I should be
     satisfied. He made the necessary recommendation, and
     Governor Yates complied. I was present at the meeting
     between Yates and Lincoln, and I remember that the former,
     when Lincoln urged my claims for retention in office, asked
     Lincoln to appoint their mutual friend A. Y. Ellis
     postmaster at Springfield. I do not remember whether Lincoln
     promised to do so or not, but Ellis was never appointed.

[Illustration: Springfield Railway Station 228]

The intention was to stop at many of the principal cities along the
route, and plenty of time had been allotted for the purpose. Mr. Lincoln
had told me that a man named Wood had been recommended to him by Mr.
Seward, and he had been placed in charge of the party as a sort of
general manager. The party, besides the President, his wife, and three
sons, Robert, William, and Thomas, consisted of his brother-in-law, Dr.
W. S. Wallace, David Davis, Norman B. Judd, Elmer E. Ellsworth, Ward
H. Lamon, and the President's two secretaries, John G. Nicolay and John
Hay. Colonel E. V. Sumner and other army gentlemen were also in the car,
and some friends of Mr. Lincoln--among them O. H. Browning, Governor
Yates, and ex-Governor Moore--started with the party from Springfield,
but dropped out at points along the way. The day was a stormy one, with
dense clouds hanging heavily overhead. A goodly throng of Springfield
people had gathered to see the distinguished party safely off. After
the latter had entered the car the people closed about it until the
President appeared on the rear platform. He stood for a moment as if
to suppress evidences of his emotion, and removing his hat made the
following brief but dignified and touching address: * "Friends: No one
who has never been placed in a like position can understand my feelings
at this hour, nor the oppressive sadness I feel at this parting. For
more than a quarter of a century I have lived among you, and during all
that time I have received nothing but kindness at your hands. Here I
have lived from my youth until now I am an old man. Here the most sacred
ties of earth were assumed. Here all my children were born; and here one
of them lies buried. To you, dear friends, I owe all that I have, all
that I am. All the strange, checkered past seems to crowd now upon my
mind. To-day I leave you. I go to assume a task more difficult than that
which devolved upon Washington. Unless the great God who assisted him
shall be with and aid me, I must fail; but if the same omniscient mind
and almighty arm that directed and protected him shall guide and support
me I shall not fail--I shall succeed. Let us all pray that the God of
our fathers may not forsake us now. To him I commend you all. Permit me
to ask that with equal sincerity and faith you will invoke his wisdom
and guidance for me. With these words I must leave you, for how long
I know not. Friends, one and all, I must now bid you an affectionate

     * I was not present when Mr. Lincoln delivered his farewell
     at the depot in Springfield, and never heard what he said. I
     have adopted the version of his speech as published in our
     papers. There has been some controversy over the exact
     language he used on that occasion, and Mr. Nicolay has
     recently published the speech from what he says is the
     original MS., partly in his own and partly in the
     handwriting of Mr. Lincoln. Substantially, however, it is
     like the speech as reproduced here from the Springfield

At the conclusion of this neat and appropriate farewell the train rolled
slowly out, and Mr. Lincoln, still standing in the doorway of the rear
car, took his last view of Springfield. The journey had been as well
advertised as it had been carefully planned, and therefore, at every
town along the route, and at every stop, great crowds were gathered to
catch a glimpse of the President-elect.*

* "Before Mr. Lincoln's election in 1860 I, then a child of eleven
years, was presented with his lithograph. Admiring him with my whole
heart, I thought still his appearance would be much improved should
he cultivate his whiskers. Childish thoughts must have utterance. So I
proposed the idea to him, expressing as well as I was able the esteem
in which he was held among honest men. A few days after I received this
kind and friendly letter?

     "* Springfield, III., October 19, 1860.

     "'Miss Grace Bedell.

     "'My Dear Little Miss:--Your very agreeable letter of the
     15th is received. I regret the necessity of saying I have no
     daughter. I have three sons--one seventeen, one nine, and
     one seven. They with their mother constitute my whole
     family. As to the whiskers, as I have never worn any, do you
     not think that people would call it a piece of silly
     affectation were I to begin wearing them now?

     "'I am your true friend and sincere well-wisher,

     "'A. Lincoln.'

     "It appears I was not forgotten, for after his election to
     the Presidency, while on his journey to Washington, the
     train stopped at Westfield, Chautauqua County, at which
     place I then resided. Mr. Lincoln said, 'I have a
     correspondent in this place, a little girl whose name is
     Grace Bedell, and I would like to see her.' I was conveyed
     to him; he stepped from the cars, extending his hand and
     saying, 'You see I have let these whiskers grow for you,
     Grace,' kissed me, shook me cordially by the hand, and was
     gone. I was frequently afterward assured of his
     remembrance.'"  Grace G. Bedell, MS. letter, Dec. 14, 1866.

Mr. Lincoln usually gratified the wishes of the crowds, who called
him out for a speech whether it was down on the regular programme of
movements or not. In all cases his remarks were well-timed and sensibly
uttered. At Indianapolis, where the Legislature was in session, he
halted for a day and delivered a speech the burden of which was
an answer to the Southern charges of coercion and invasion. From
Indianapolis he moved on to Cincinnati and Columbus, at the last-named
place meeting the Legislature of Ohio. The remainder of the journey
convinced Mr. Lincoln of his strength in the affections of the
people. Many, no doubt, were full of curiosity to see the now famous
rail-splitter, but all were outspoken and earnest in their assurances
of support. At Steubenville, Pittsburg, Cleveland, Buffalo, Albany,
New York, and Philadelphia he made manly and patriotic speeches. These
speeches, plain in language and simple in illustration, made every man
who heard them a stronger friend than ever of the Government. He was
skilful enough to warn the people of the danger ahead and to impress
them with his ability to deal properly with the situation, without in
any case outlining his intended policy or revealing the forces he
held in reserve.* At Pittsburg he advised deliberation and begged the
American people to keep their temper on both sides of the line.
At Cleveland he insisted that "the crisis, as it is called, is an
artificial crisis and has no foundation in fact;" and at Philadelphia he
assured his listeners that under his administration there would be "no
bloodshed unless it was forced upon the Government, and then it would be
compelled to act in self-defence."

     * The following are extracts from Mr. Lincoln's letters
     written during the campaign in answer to his position with
     reference to the anticipated uprisings in the Southern
     States. They are here published for the first time:

     [From a letter to L. Montgomery Bond, Esq., Oct. 15, 1860.]

     "I certainly am in no temper and have no purpose to embitter
     the feelings of the South, but whether I am inclined to such
     a course as would in fact embitter their feelings you can
     better judge by my published speeches than by anything I
     would say in a short letter if I were inclined now, as I am
     not, to define my position anew."

     [From a letter to Samuel Haycraft, dated, Springfield, Ill.,
     June 4, 1860.]

     "Like yourself I belonged to the old Whig party from its
     origin to its close. I never belonged to the American party
     organization, nor ever to a party called a Union party;
     though I hope I neither am or ever have been less devoted to
     the Union than yourself or any other patriotic man."

     [Private and Confidential.]

     Springfield, Ill., Nov. 13, 1860.

     "Hon. Samuel Haycraft.

     "My Dear Sir:--Yours of the 9th is just received. I can only
     answer briefly. Rest fully assured that the good people of
     the South who will put themselves in the same temper and
     mood towards me which you do will  find no cause to complain
     of me.

     "Yours very truly,

     "A. Lincoln."

This last utterance was made in front of Independence Hall, where, a few
moments before, he had unfurled to the breeze a magnificent new flag, an
impressive ceremony performed amid the cheers swelling from the vast sea
of upturned faces before him. From Philadelphia his journey took him to
Harrisburg, where he visited both branches of the Legislature then in
session. For an account of the remainder of this now famous trip I beg
to quote from the admirable narrative of Dr. Holland. Describing the
welcome tendered him by the Legislature at Harrisburg, the latter says:
"At the conclusion of the exercises of the day Mr. Lincoln, who was
known to be very weary, was permitted to pass undisturbed to his
apartments in the Jones House. It was popularly understood that he was
to start for Washington the next morning, and the people of Harrisburg
supposed they had only taken a temporary leave of him. He remained in
his rooms until nearly six o'clock, when he passed into the street,
entered a carriage unobserved in company with Colonel Lamon, and was
driven to a special train on the Pennsylvania railroad in waiting for
him. As a matter of precaution the telegraph wires were cut the moment
he left Harrisburg, so that if his departure should be discovered
intelligence of it could not be communicated at a distance. At half-past
ten the train arrived at Philadelphia, and here Mr. Lincoln was met by
a detective, who had a carriage in readiness in which the party were
driven to the depot of the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore
railroad. At a quarter past eleven they arrived and very fortunately
found the regular train, which should have left at eleven, delayed.
The party took berths in the sleeping, car, and without change of cars
passed directly through Baltimore to Washington, where Mr. Lincoln
arrived at half-past six o'clock in the morning and found Mr. Washburne
anxiously awaiting him. He was taken into a carriage and in a few
minutes he was talking over his adventures with Senator Seward at
Willard's Hotel." The remaining members of the Presidential party from
whom Mr. Lincoln separated at Harrisburg left that place on the special
train intended for him; and as news of his safe arrival in Washington
had been already telegraphed over the country no attempt was made to
interrupt their safe passage through Baltimore. As is now generally well
known many threats had up to that time been made that Mr. Lincoln, on
his way to Washington, should never pass through Baltimore alive. It was
reported and believed that conspiracies had been formed to attack the
train, blow it up with explosives or in some equally effective way
dispose of the President-elect. Mr. Seward and others were so deeply
impressed with the grave features of the reports afloat that Allan
Pinkerton, the noted detective of Chicago, was employed to investigate
the matter and ferret out the conspiracy, if any existed. This shrewd
operator went to Baltimore, opened an office as a stock-broker, and
through his assistants--the most adroit and serviceable of whom was a
woman--was soon in possession of inside information. The change of plans
and trains at Harrisburg was due to his management and advice. Some
years before his death Mr. Pinkerton furnished me with a large volume
of the written reports of his subordinates and an elaborate account by
himself of the conspiracy and the means he employed to ferret it out.
The narrative, thrilling enough in some particulars, is too extended
for insertion here. It is enough for us to know that the tragedy
was successfully averted and that Mr. Lincoln was safely landed in

In January preceding his departure from Springfield Mr. Lincoln,
becoming somewhat annoyed, not to say alarmed, at the threats emanating
from Baltimore and other portions of the country adjacent to Washington,
that he should not reach the latter place alive, and that even if
successful in reaching the Capitol his inauguration should in some way
be prevented, determined to ascertain for himself what protection would
be given him in case an effort should be made by an individual or a mob
to do him violence. He sent a young military officer in the person of
Thomas Mather, then Adjutant-General of Illinois, to Washington with a
letter to General Scott, in which he recounted the threats he had heard
and ventured to inquire as to the probability of any attempt at his life
being made on the occasion of his inauguration. General Mather, on
his arrival in Washington, found General Scott confined to his room by
illness and unable to see visitors. On Mather calling a second time
and sending in his letter he was invited up to the sick man's chamber.
"Entering the room." related Mather in later years, "I found the old
warrior, grizzly and wrinkled, propped up in the bed by an embankment
of pillows behind his back. His hair and beard were considerably
disordered, the flesh seemed to lay in rolls across his warty face and
neck, and his breathing was not without great labor. In his hand he
still held Lincoln's letter. He was weak from long-continued illness,
and trembled very perceptibly. It was evident that the message from
Lincoln had wrought up the old veteran's feelings. 'General Mather,' he
said to me, in great agitation, 'present my compliments to Mr. Lincoln
when you return to Springfield, and tell him I expect him to come on to
Washington as soon as he is ready. Say to him that I'll look after those
Maryland and Virginia rangers myself; I'll plant cannon at both ends
of Pennsylvania avenue, and if any of them show their heads or raise a
finger I'll blow them to hell.' On my return to Springfield," concludes
Mather, "I hastened to assure Mr. Lincoln that, if Scott were alive on
the day of the inauguration, there need be no alarm lest the performance
be interrupted by any one. I felt certain the hero of Lundy's Lane would
give the matter the care and attention it deserved."

Having at last reached his destination in safety, Mr. Lincoln spent the
few days preceding his inauguration at Willard's Hotel, receiving an
uninterrupted stream of visitors and friends. In the few unoccupied
moments allotted him, he was carefully revising his inaugural address.
On the morning of the 4th of March he rode from his hotel with Mr.
Buchanan in an open barouche to the Capitol.

There, slightly pale and nervous, he was introduced to the assembled
multitude by his old friend Edward D. Baker, and in a fervid and
impressive manner delivered his address. At its conclusion the customary
oath was administered by the venerable Chief Justice Taney, and he was
now clothed with all the powers and privileges of Chief Magistrate of
the nation. He accompanied Mr. Buchanan to the White House, and here the
historic bachelor of Lancaster bade him farewell, bespeaking for him a
peaceful, prosperous, and successful administration.

One who witnessed the impressive scene left the following graphic
description of the inauguration and its principal incidents: "Near noon
I found myself a member of the motley crowd gathered about the side
entrance to Willard's Hotel. Soon an open barouche drove up, and the
only occupant stepped out. A large, heavy, awkward-moving man, far
advanced in years, short and thin gray hair, full face, plentifully
seamed and wrinkled, head curiously inclined to the left shoulder, a
low-crowned, broad-brimmed silk hat, an immense white cravat like a
poultice, thrusting the old-fashioned standing collar up to the ears,
dressed in black throughout, with swallow-tail coat not of the newest
style. It was President Buchanan, calling to take his successor to the
Capitol. In a few minutes he reappeared, with Mr. Lincoln on his arm;
the two took seats side-by-side, and the carriage rolled away, followed
by a rather disorderly and certainly not very imposing procession. I had
ample time to walk to the Capitol, and no difficulty in securing a place
where everything could be seen and heard to the best advantage. The
attendance at the inauguration was, they told me, unusually small,
many being kept away by anticipated disturbance, as it had been
rumored--truly, too--that General Scott himself was fearful of an
outbreak, and had made all possible military preparations to meet the
emergency. A square platform had been built out from the steps to the
eastern portico, with benches for distinguished spectators on three
sides. Douglas, the only one I recognized, sat at the extreme end of the
seat on the right of the narrow passage leading from the steps. There
was no delay, and the gaunt form of the President-elect was soon
visible, slowly making his way to the front. To me, at least, he was
completely metamorphosed--partly by his own fault, and partly through
the efforts of injudicious friends and ambitious tailors. He was raising
(to gratify a very young lady, it is said) a crop of whiskers, of the
blacking-brush variety, coarse, stiff, and ungraceful; and in so doing
spoiled, or at least seriously impaired, a face which, though never
handsome, had in its original state a peculiar power and pathos. On the
present occasion the whiskers were reinforced by brand-new clothes from
top to toe; black dress-coat, instead of the usual frock, black cloth or
satin vest, black pantaloons, and a glossy hat evidently just out of the
box. To cap the climax of novelty, he carried a huge ebony cane, with a
gold head the size of an egg. In these, to him, strange habiliments,
he looked so miserably uncomfortable that I could not help pitying
him. Reaching the platform, his discomfort was visibly increased by not
knowing what to do with hat and cane; and so he stood there, the target
for ten thousand eyes, holding cane in one hand and hat in the other,
the very picture of helpless embarrassment. After some hesitation he
pushed the cane into a corner of the railing, but could not find a place
for the hat except on the floor, where I could see he did not like to
risk it. Douglas, who fully took in the situation, came to rescue of his
old friend and rival, and held the precious hat until the owner needed
it again; a service which, if predicted two years before, would probably
have astonished him. The oath of office was administered by Chief
Justice Taney, whose black robes, attenuated figure, and cadaverous
countenance reminded me of a galvanized corpse. Then the President came
forward, and read his inaugural address in a clear and distinct voice.
It was attentively listened to by all, but the closest listener was
Douglas, who leaned forward as if to catch every word, nodding his head
emphatically at those passages which most pleased him. There was some
applause, not very much nor very enthusiastic. I must not forget to
mention the presence of a Mephistopheles in the person of Senator
Wigfall, of Texas, who stood with folded arms leaning against the
doorway of the Capitol, looking down upon the crowd and the ceremony
with a contemptuous air, which sufficiently indicated his opinion of the
whole performance. To him the Southern Confederacy was already an
accomplished fact. He lived to see it the saddest of fictions."


Lincoln, the President, did not differ greatly from Lincoln the lawyer
and politician. In the latter capacity only had his old friends in
Illinois known him. For a long time after taking his seat they were
curious to know what change, if any, his exalted station had made in
him. He was no longer amid people who had seen him grow from the village
lawyer to the highest rank in the land, and whose hands he could grasp
in the confidence of a time-tried friendship; but now he was surrounded
by wealth, power, fashion, influence, by adroit politicians and artful
schemers of every sort. In the past his Illinois and particularly his
Springfield friends* had shared the anxiety and responsibility of
every step he had made; but now they were no longer to continue in the
partnership. Many of them wanted no office, but all of them felt great
interest as well as pride in his future. A few attempted to keep up a
correspondence with him, but his answers were tardy and irregular.

     * Lincoln, even after his elevation to the Presidency,
     always had an eye out for his friends, as the following
     letters will abundantly prove:

     "Executive Mansion, Washington, April 20, 1864.

     "Calvin Truesdale, Esq.

     "Postmaster, Rock Island, Ill.:

     "Thomas J. Pickett, late agent of the Quartermaster's
     Department for the Island of Rock Island, has been removed
     or suspended from that position on a charge of having sold
     timber and stone from the island for his private benefit.
     Mr. Pickett is an old acquaintance and friend of mine, and I
     will thank you, if you will, to set a day or days and place
     on and at which to take testimony on the point. Notify Mr.
     Pickett and one J. B. Danforth (who as I understand makes
     the charge) to be present with their witnesses. Take the
     testimony in writing offered by both sides, and report it in
     full to me. Please do this for me.

     "Yours truly,

     "A. Lincoln."

     The man Pickett was formerly the editor of a newspaper in
     northern Illinois, and had, to use an expression of later
     days, inaugurated in the columns of his paper Lincoln's boom
     for the Presidency. When he afterwards fell under suspicion,
     no one came to his rescue sooner than the President himself.

     The following letter needs no explanation:

     "Executive Mansion, Washington, August 27, 1862.

     "Hon. Wash. Talcott.

     "My Dear Sir:--I have determined to appoint you collector. I
     now have a very special request to make of you, which is,
     that you will make no war upon Mr. Washburne, who is also my
     friend, and of longer standing than yourself. I will even be
     obliged if you can do something for him if occasion

     "Yours truly,

     "A. Lincoln."

     Mr. Talcott, to whom it was addressed, was furnished a
     letter of introduction by the President, as follows:

     "The Secretary of the Treasury and the Commissioner of
     Internal Revenue will please see Mr. Talcott, one of the
     best men there is, and, if any difference, one they would
     like better than they do me.

     "A. Lincoln."

     August 18, 1862.

Because he did not appoint a goodly portion of his early associates
to comfortable offices, and did not interest himself in the welfare of
everyone whom he had known in Illinois, or met while on the circuit, the
erroneous impression grew that his elevation had turned his head. There
was no foundation for such an unwarranted conclusion. Lincoln had not
changed a particle. He was overrun with duties and weighted down with
cares; his surroundings were different and his friends were new, but
he himself was the same calm, just, and devoted friend as of yore. His
letters were few and brief, but they showed no lack of gratitude or
appreciation, as the following one to me will testify:

"Executive Mansion, February 3, 1862.

"Dear William:

"Yours of January 30th is just received. Do just as you say about the
money matters. As you well know, I have not time enough to write a
letter of respectable length. God bless you, says

"Your friend,

"A. Lincoln."*

     * On February 19,1863, I received this despatch from Mr.

     "Would you accept a job of about a month's duration, at St
     Louis, $5 a day and mileage. Answer.

     "A. Lincoln."

His letters to others were of the same warm and generous tenor, but
yet the foolish notion prevailed that he had learned to disregard the
condition and claims of his Springfield friends. One of the latter who
visited Washington returned somewhat displeased because Mr. Lincoln
failed to inquire after the health and welfare of each one of his old
neighbors. The report spread that he cared nothing for his home or the
friends who had made him what he was. Those who entertained this opinion
of the man forgot that he was not exactly the property of Springfield
and Illinois, but the President of all the States in the Union.*

In this connection it may not be out of order to refer briefly to the
settlement by Mr. Lincoln of the claims his leading Illinois friends had
on him. As before observed his own election to the Presidency cancelled
Illinois as a factor in the cabinet problem, but in no wise disposed of
the friends whom the public expected and whom he himself intended
should be provided for. Of these latter the oldest and most zealous and
effective was David Davis.** It is not extravagance, taking their
long association together in mind, to say that Davis had done more for
Lincoln than any dozen other friends he had. Of course, after Lincoln
was securely installed in office, the people, especially in Illinois,
awaited his recognition of Davis. What was finally done is minutely told
in a letter by Leonard Swett, which it is proper here to insert:

     * The following letter from a disappointed Illinois friend
     will serve to illustrate the perplexities that beset Lincoln
     in disposing of the claims of personal friendship. It was
     written by a man of no inconsiderable reputation in
     Illinois, where he at one time filled a State office:
     "Lincoln is a singular man, and I must confess I never knew
     him. He has for twenty years past used me as a plaything to
     accomplish his own ends; but the moment he was elevated to
     his proud position he seems all at once to have entirely
     changed his whole nature and become altogether a new being.
     He knows no one, and the road to his favor is always open to
     his enemies, while the door is hermetically sealed to his
     old friends."

     ** "I had done Lincoln many, many favors, had electioneered
     for him, spent my money for him, worked and toiled for
     him."--David Davis, statement, September 20, 1866.

"Chicago, Ill., August 29,1887.

"William H. Herndon.

"My Dear Sir:--Your inquiry in reference to the circumstances of the
appointment of David Davis as one of the Justices of the Supreme Court
reached me last evening. In reply I beg leave to recall the fact, that
in 1860 the politicians of Illinois were divided into three divisions,
which were represented in the Decatur convention by the votes on the
nomination for Governor. The largest vote was for Norman B. Judd, of
Chicago, his strength in the main being the northern part of the State.
I was next in order of strength, and Richard Yates the third, but
the divisions were not materially unequal. The result was Yates was
nominated, his strength being about Springfield and Jacksonville,
extending to Quincy on the west, and mine was at Bloomington and
vicinity and south and southeast.

"These divisions were kept up awhile after Mr. Lincoln's election, and
were considered in the distribution of Federal patronage. A vacancy in
the United States Senate occurred early in 1861 by the death of Stephen
A. Douglas, and Governor Yates appointed Oliver H. Browning, of Quincy,
to fill the vacancy. There was also a vacancy upon the Supreme Bench of
the United States to be filled from this general vicinity by Mr.
Lincoln in the early part of his administration, and Judge Davis,
of Bloomington, and Mr. Browning, of Quincy, were aspirants for the
position. Mr. Browning had the advantage that Lincoln was new in his
seat, and Senators were august personages; and, being in the Senate and
a most courteous and able gentleman, Mr. Browning succeeded in securing
nearly all the senatorial strength, and Mr. Lincoln was nearly swept off
his feet by the current of influence. Davis' supporters were the circuit
lawyers mainly in the eastern and central part of the State. These
lawyers were at home, and their presence was not a living force felt
constantly by the President at Washington.

"I was then living at Bloomington, and met Judge Davis every day. As
months elapsed we used to get word from Washington in reference to the
condition of things; finally, one day the word came that Lincoln had
said, 'I do not know what I may do when the time comes, but there
has never been a day when if I had to act I should not have appointed
Browning.' Judge Davis, General Orme, and myself held a consultation
in my law-office at Bloomington. We decided that the remark was too
Lincolnian to be mistaken and no man but he could have put the situation
so quaintly. We decided also that the appointment was gone, and sat
there glum over the situation. I finally broke the silence, saying
in substance, 'The appointment is gone and I am going to pack my
carpet-sack for Washington.' 'No, you are not,' said Davis. 'Yes, I am,'
was my reply. 'Lincoln is being swept off his feet by the influence of
these Senators, and I will have the luxury of one more talk with him
before he acts.'

"I did go home, and two days thereafter, in the morning about seven
o'clock--for I knew Mr. Lincoln's habits well--was at the White House
and spent most of the forenoon with him. I tried to impress upon him
that he had been brought into prominence by the Circuit Court lawyers
of the old eighth Circuit, headed by Judge Davis. 'If,' I said. 'Judge
Davis, with his tact and force, had not lived, and all other things
had been as they were, I believe you would not now be sitting where you
are.' He replied gravely, 'Yes, that is so.' 'Now it is a common law
of mankind,' said I, 'that one raised into prominence is expected to
recognize the force that lifts him, or, if from a pinch, the force that
lets him out. The Czar Nicholas was once attacked by an assassin; a
kindly hand warded off the blow and saved his life. The Czar hunted out
the owner of that hand and strewed his pathway with flowers through
life. The Emperor Napoleon III. has hunted out everybody who even tossed
him a biscuit in his prison at Ham and has made him rich. Here is Judge
Davis, whom you know to be in every respect qualified for this position,
and you ought in justice to yourself and public expectation to give him
this place.' We had an earnest pleasant forenoon, and I thought I had
the best of the argument, and I think he thought so too.

"I left him and went to Willard's Hotel to think over the interview, and
there a new thought struck me. I therefore wrote a letter to Mr. Lincoln
and returned to the White House. Getting in, I read it to him and left
it with him. It was, in substance, that he might think if he gave Davis
this place the latter when he got to Washington would not give him any
peace until he gave me a place equally as good; that I recognized the
fact that he could not give this place to Davis, which would be charged
to the Bloomington faction in our State politics, and then give
me anything I would have and be just to the party there; that this
appointment, if made, should kill 'two birds with one stone;' that I
would accept it as one-half for me and one-half for the Judge; and that
thereafter, if I or any of my friends ever troubled him, he could draw
that letter as a plea in bar on that subject. As I read it Lincoln said,
'If you mean that among friends as it reads I will take it and make the
appointment.' He at once did as he said.

"He then made a request of the Judge after his appointment in reference
to a clerk in his circuit, and wrote him a notice of the appointment,
which Davis received the same afternoon I returned to Bloomington.

"Judge Davis was about fifteen years my senior. I had come to his
circuit at the age of twenty-four, and between him and Lincoln I had
grown up leaning in hours of weakness on their own great arms for
support. I was glad of the opportunity to put in the mite of my claims
upon Lincoln and give it to Davis, and have been glad I did it every day

"An unknown number of people have almost every week since, speaking
perhaps extravagantly, asked me in a quasi-confidential manner, 'How
was it that you and Lincoln were so intimate and he never gave you
anything?' I have generally said, 'It seems to me that is my question,
and so long as I don't complain I do not see why you should.' I may
be pardoned also for saying that I have not considered every man not
holding an office out of place in life. I got my eyes open on this
subject before I got an office, and as in Washington I saw the
Congressman in decline I prayed that my latter end might not be like

"Yours truly,

"Leonard Swett."

Before his departure for Washington, Mr. Lincoln had on several
occasions referred in my presence to the gravity of the national
questions that stared him in the face; yet from what he said I caught no
definite idea of what his intentions were. He told me he would rely upon
me to keep him informed of the situation about home, what his friends
were saying of him, and whether his course was meeting with their
approval. He suggested that I should write him frequently, and that
arrangements would be made with his private secretary, Mr. Nicolay, that
my letters should pass through the latter's hands unopened. This plan
was adhered to, and I have every reason now to believe that all my
letters to Lincoln, although they contained no great secrets of state,
passed unread into his hands. I was what the newspaper men would call
a "frequent contributor." I wrote oftener than he answered, sometimes
remitting him his share of old fees, sometimes dilating on national
affairs, but generally confining myself to local politics and news in
and around Springfield. I remember of writing him two copious letters,
one on the necessity of keeping up the draft, the other admonishing
him to hasten his Proclamation of Emancipation. In the latter I was
especially fervid, assuring, him if he emancipated the slaves, he could
"go down the other side of life filled with the consciousness of duty
well done, and along a pathway blazing with eternal glory." How my
rhetoric or sentiments struck him I never learned, for in the rush of
executive business he never responded to either of the letters. Late in
the summer of 1861, as elsewhere mentioned in these chapters, I made my
first and only visit to Washington while he was President. My mission
was intended to promote the prospects of a brother-in-law, Charles
W. Chatterton, who desired to lay claim to an office in the Bureau
of Indian Affairs. Mr. Lincoln accompanied me to the office of
the Commissioner of Indian Affairs,--William P. Dole of Paris,
Illinois,--told a good story, and made the request which secured the
coveted office--an Indian agency--in an amazingly short time. This
was one of the few favors I asked of Mr. Lincoln, and he granted it
"speedily--without delay; freely--without purchase; and fully--without
denial." I remained in Washington for several days after this, and,
notwithstanding the pressure of business, he made me spend a good
portion of the time at the White House. One thing he could scarcely
cease from referring to was the persistence of the office-seekers. They
slipped in, he said, through the half-opened doors of the Executive
Mansion; they dogged his steps if he walked; they edged their way
through the crowds and thrust their papers in his hands when he rode;*
and, taking it all in all, they well-nigh worried him to death.

     * He said that one day, as he was passing down Pennsylvania
     avenue, a man came running after him, hailed him, and thrust
     a bundle of papers in his hands. It angered him not a
     little, and he pitched the papers back, saying, "I'm not
     going to open shop here."

He said that, if the Government passed through the Rebellion without
dismemberment, there was the strongest danger of its falling a prey
to the rapacity of the office-seeking class. "This human struggle and
scramble for office," were his words, "for a way to live without work,
will finally test the strength of our institutions." A good part of the
day during my stay I would spend with him in his office or waiting-room.
I saw the endless line of callers, and met the scores of dignitaries
one usually meets at the White House, even now; but nothing took place
worthy of special mention here. One day Horace Maynard and Andrew
Johnson, both senators from Tennessee, came in arm-in-arm. They declined
to sit down, but at once set to work to discuss with the President his
recent action in some case in which they were interested. Maynard seemed
very earnest in what he said. "Beware, Mr. President," he said, "and
do not go too fast. There is danger ahead," "I know that," responded
Lincoln, good-naturedly, "but I shall go just so fast and only so fast
as I think I'm right and the people are ready for the step." Hardly
half-a-dozen words followed, when the pair wheeled around and walked
away. The day following I left Washington for home. I separated from Mr.
Lincoln at the White House. He followed me to the rear portico, where I
entered the carriage to ride to the railroad depot. He grasped me warmly
by the hand and bade me a fervent "Good-bye." It was the last time I
ever saw him alive.

Mrs. Ninian Edwards, who, it will be remembered, was the sister of Mrs.
Lincoln, some time before her death furnished me an account of her visit
to Washington, some of the incidents of which are so characteristic
that I cannot refrain from giving them room here. This lady, without
endeavoring to suppress mention of her sister's many caprices and
eccentricities while mistress of the White House, remarked that, having
been often solicited by the Lincolns to visit them, she and her husband,
in answer to the cordial invitation, at last made the journey to
Washington, "One day while there," she relates, "in order to calm his
mind, to turn his attention away from business and cheer him up, I took
Mr. Lincoln down through the conservatory belonging to the Executive
Mansion, and showed him the world of flowers represented there. He
followed me patiently through. 'How beautiful these flowers are! how
gorgeous these roses! Here are exotics,' I exclaimed, in admiration,
'gathered from the remotest corners of the earth, and grand beyond
description.' A moody silence followed, broken finally by Mr. Lincoln
with this observation: 'Yes, this whole thing looks like spring; but do
you know I have never been in here before. I don't know why it is so,
but I never cared for flowers; I seem to have no taste, natural or
acquired, for such things.' I induced him one day," continued Mrs.
Edwards, "to walk to the Park north of the White House. He hadn't been
there, he said, for a year. On such occasions, when alone or in the
company of a close friend, and released from the restraint of his
official surroundings, he was wont to throw from his shoulders many a
burden. He was a man I loved and respected. He was a good man, an honest
and true one. Much of his seeming disregard, which has been tortured
into ingratitude, was due to his peculiar construction. His habits, like
himself, were odd and wholly irregular. He would move around in a
vague, abstracted way, as if unconscious of his own or any one
else's existence. He had no expressed fondness for anything, and ate
mechanically. I have seen him sit down at the table absorbed in thought,
and never, unless recalled to his senses, would he think of food. But,
however peculiar and secretive he may have seemed, he was anything but
cold. Beneath what the world saw lurked a nature as tender and poetic
as any I ever knew. The death of his son Willie, which occurred in
Washington, made a deep impression on him. It was the first death in
his family, save an infant who died a few days after its birth in
Springfield. On the evening we strolled through the Park he spoke of it
with deep feeling, and he frequently afterward referred to it. When I
announced my intention of leaving Washington he was much affected at the
news of my departure. We were strolling through the White House grounds,
when he begged me with tears in his eyes to remain longer. 'You have
such strong control and such an influence over Mary,' he contended,
'that when troubles come you can console me.' The picture of the man's
despair never faded from my vision. Long after my return to Springfield,
on reverting to the sad separation, my heart ached because I was unable
in my feeble way to lighten his burden."

In the summer of 1866 I wrote to Mrs. Lincoln, then in Chicago, asking
for a brief account of her own and her husband's life or mode of living
while at the White House. She responded as follows: *

     * From MSS. in Author's possession.

"375 West Washington Street, Chicago, Ill., August 28, 1866.

"Hon. Wm. H. Herndon.

"My Dear Sir:--Owing to Robert's absence from Chicago your last letter
to him was only shown me last evening. The recollection of my beloved
husband's truly affectionate regard for you, and the knowledge of your
great love and reverence for the best man that ever lived, would of
itself cause you to be cherished with the sincerest regard by my sons
and myself. In my overwhelming bereavement those who loved my idolized
husband aside from disinterested motives are very precious to me and
mine. My grief has been so uncontrollable that, in consequence, I have
been obliged to bury myself in solitude, knowing that many whom I would
see could not fully enter into the state of my feelings. I have been
thinking for some time past I would like to see you and have a long
conversation. I wish to know if you will be in Springfield next
Wednesday week, September 4; if so, at ten o'clock in the morning you
will find me at the St. Nicholas Hotel. Please mention this visit to
Springfield to no one. It is a most sacred one, as you may suppose, to
visit the tomb which contains my all in life--my husband. If it will not
be convenient, or if business at the time specified should require your
absence, should you visit Chicago any day this week I will be pleased to
see you. I remain,

"Very truly,

"Mary Lincoln."

I met Mrs. Lincoln at the hotel in Springfield according to appointment.
Our interview was somewhat extended in range, but none the less
interesting. Her statement made at the time now lies before me. "My
husband intended," she said, "when he was through with his Presidential
term, to take me and our boys with him to Europe. After his return from
Europe he intended to cross the Rocky Mountains and go to California,
where the soldiers were to be digging out gold to pay the national debt.
During his last days he and Senator Sumner became great friends, and
were closely attached to each other. They were down the river after
Richmond was taken--were full of joy and gladness at the thought of the
war being over. Up to 1864 Mr. Lincoln wanted to live in Springfield, and
if he died be buried there also; but after that and only a short time
before his death he changed his mind slightly, but never really settled
on any particular place. The last time I remember of his referring to
the matter he said he thought it would be good for himself and me to
spend a year or more travelling. As to his nature, he was the kindest
man, most tender husband, and loving father in the world. He gave us all
unbounded liberty, saying to me always when I asked for anything,
'You know what you want, go and get it,' and never asking if it were
necessary. He was very indulgent to his children. He never neglected
to praise them for any of their good acts. He often said, 'It is my
pleasure that my children are free and happy, and unrestrained by
parental tyranny. Love is the chain whereby to bind a child to its

"My husband placed great reliance on my knowledge of human nature, often
telling me, when about to make some important appointment, that he had
no knowledge of men and their motives. It was his intention to remove
Seward as soon as peace with the South was declared. He greatly disliked
Andrew Johnson. Once the latter, when we were in company, followed
us around not a little. It displeased Mr. Lincoln so much he turned
abruptly and asked, loud enough to be heard by others, 'Why is this man
forever following me?' At another time, when we were down at City Point,
Johnson, still following us, was drunk. Mr. Lincoln in desperation
exclaimed, 'For God's sake don't ask Johnson to dine with us, Sumner,
who was along, joined in the request. Mr. Lincoln was mild in his
manners, but he was a terribly firm man when he set his foot down. None
of us, no man or woman, could rule him after he had once fully made up
his mind. I could always tell when in deciding anything he had reached
the ultimatum. At first he was very cheerful, then he lapsed into
thoughtfulness, bringing his lips together in a firm compression. When
these symptoms developed I fashioned myself accordingly, and so did all
others have to do sooner or later. When we first went to Washington
many thought Mr. Lincoln was weak, but he rose grandly with the
circumstances. I told him once of the assertion I had heard coming from
the friends of Seward, that the latter was the power behind the
throne; that he could rule him. He replied, 'I may not rule myself,
but certainly Seward shall not. The only ruler I have is my
conscience--following God in it--and these men will have to learn that

"Some of the newspaper attacks on him gave him great pain. I sometimes
read them to him, but he would beg me to desist, saying, 'I have enough
to bear now, but yet I care nothing for them. If I'm right I'll live,
and if wrong I'll die anyhow; so let them fight at me unrestrained.' My
playful response would be, 'The way to learn is to hear both sides.' I
once assured him Chase and certain others who were scheming to supplant
him ought to be restrained in their evil designs. 'Do good to them
who hate you,' was his generous answer, 'and turn their ill-will into

"I often told Mr. Lincoln that God would not let any harm come of
him. We had passed through four long years--terrible and bloody
years--unscathed, and I believed we would be released from all danger.
He gradually grew into that belief himself, and the old gloomy notion
of his unavoidable taking-off was becoming dimmer as time passed away.
Cheerfulness merged into joyfulness. The skies cleared, the end of
the war rose dimly into view when the great blow came and shut him out

For a glimpse of Lincoln's habits while a resident of Washington and
an executive officer, there is no better authority than John Hay, who
served as one of his secretaries. In 1866, Mr. Hay, then a member of the
United States Legation in Paris, wrote me an interesting account,
which so faithfully delineates Lincoln in his public home that I cannot
refrain from quoting it entire. Although the letter was written in
answer to a list of questions I asked, and was prepared without any
attempt at arrangement, still it is none the less interesting. "Lincoln
went to bed ordinarily," it begins, "from ten to eleven o'clock, unless
he happened to be kept up by important news, in which case he would
frequently remain at the War Department till one or two. He rose early.
When he lived in the country at the Soldiers' Home he would be up and
dressed, eat his breakfast (which was extremely frugal, an egg, a piece
of toast, coffee, etc.), and ride into Washington, all before eight
o'clock. In the winter, at the White House, he was not quite so early.
He did not sleep well, but spent a good while in bed. 'Tad' usually
slept with him. He would lie around the office until he fell asleep,
and Lincoln would shoulder him and take him off to bed. He pretended
to begin business at ten o'clock in the morning, but in reality the
ante-rooms and halls were full long before that hour--people anxious to
get the first axe ground. He was extremely unmethodical; it was a four
years' struggle on Nicolay's part and mine to get him to adopt some
systematic rules. He would break through every regulation as fast as
it was made. Anything that kept the people themselves away from him
he disapproved, although they nearly annoyed the life out of him by
unreasonable complaints and requests. He wrote very few letters, and did
not read one in fifty that he received. At first we tried to bring
them to his notice, but at last he gave the whole thing over to me, and
signed, without reading them, the letters I wrote in his name. He wrote
perhaps half-a-dozen a week himself--not more. Nicolay received members
of Congress and other visitors who had business with the Executive
office, communicated to the Senate and House the messages of the
President, and exercised a general supervision over the business. I
opened and read the letters, answered them, looked over the newspapers,
supervised the clerks who kept the records, and in Nicolay's absence
did his work also. When the President had any rather delicate matter to
manage at a distance from Washington he rarely wrote, but sent Nicolay
or me. The House remained full of people nearly all day. At noon the
President took a little lunch--a biscuit, a glass of milk in winter,
some fruit or grapes in summer. He dined between five and six, and
we went off to our dinner also. Before dinner was over, members and
Senators would come back and take up the whole evening. Sometimes,
though rarely, he shut himself up and would see no one. Sometimes he
would run away to a lecture, or concert, or theatre for the sake of a
little rest. He was very abstemious--ate less than any man I know. He
drank nothing but water, not from principle but because he did not
like wine or spirits. Once, in rather dark days early in the war, a
temperance committee came to him and said that the reason we did not win
was because our army drank so much whiskey as to bring the curse of
the Lord upon them. He said it was rather unfair on the part of the
aforesaid curse, as the other side drank more and worse whiskey than
ours did. He read very little. He scarcely ever looked into a newspaper
unless I called his attention to an article on some special subject. He
frequently said, 'I know more about it than any of them.' It is absurd
to call him a modest man. No great man was ever modest. It was his
intellectual arrogance and unconscious assumption of superiority that
men like Chase and Sumner never could forgive. I believe that Lincoln is
well understood by the people; but there is a patent-leather, kid-glove
set who know no more of him than an owl does of a comet blazing into his
blinking eyes.* Their estimates of him are in many causes disgraceful
exhibitions of ignorance and prejudice. Their effeminate natures
shrink instinctively from the contact of a great reality like Lincoln's
character. I consider Lincoln's republicanism incarnate--with all its
faults and all its virtues. As, in spite of some rudeness, republicanism
is the sole hope of a sick world, so Lincoln, with all his foibles, is
the greatest character since Christ."

     * Bancroft's eulogy on Lincoln never pleased the latter's
     lifelong friends--those who knew him so thoroughly and well.
     February 16, 1866, David Davis, who had heard it, wrote me:
     "You will see Mr. Bancroft's oration before this reaches
     you. It is able, but Mr. Lincoln is in the background. His
     analysis of Mr. Lincoln's character is superficial. It did
     not please me. How did it satisfy you?" On the 22d he again
     wrote: "Mr. Bancroft totally misconceived Mr. Lincoln's
     character in applying 'unsteadiness' and confusion to it.
     Mr. Lincoln grew more steady and resolute, and his ideas
     were never confused. If there were any changes in him after
     he got here they were for the better. I thought him always
     master of his subject. He was a much more self-possessed man
     than I thought. He thought for himself, which is a rare
     quality nowadays. How could Bancroft know anything about
     Lincoln except as he judged of him as the public do? He
     never saw him, and is himself as cold as an icicle. I should
     never have selected an old Democratic politician, and that
     one from Massachusetts, to deliver an eulogy on Lincoln."

In 1863 Mr. Lincoln was informed one morning that among the visitors
in the ante-room of the White House was a man who claimed to be his
relative. He walked out and was surprised to find his boyhood friend
and cousin, Dennis Hanks. The latter had come to see his distinguished
relative on a rather strange mission. A number of persons living in
Coles County, in Illinois, offended at the presence and conduct of a
few soldiers who were at home from the war on furlough at the town of
Charleston, had brought about a riot, in which encounter several of the
latter had been killed. Several of the civilian participants who had
acted as leaders in the strife had been arrested and sent to Fort
McHenry or some other place of confinement equally as far from their
homes. The leading lawyers and politicians of central Illinois were
appealed to, but they and all others who had tried their hands had been
signally unsuccessful in their efforts to secure the release of the
prisoners. Meanwhile some one of a sentimental turn had conceived
the idea of sending garrulous old Dennis Hanks to Washington, fondly
believing that his relationship to the President might in this last
extremity be of some avail. The novelty of the project secured its
adoption by the prisoners' friends, and Dennis, arrayed in a suit of
new clothes, set out for the national capital. I have heard him describe
this visit very minutely. How his appearance in Washington and his
mission struck Mr. Lincoln can only be imagined. The President, after
listening to him and learning the purpose of his visit, retired to
an adjoining room and returned with an extremely large roll of papers
labelled, "The Charleston Riot Case," which he carefully untied and
gravely directed his now diplomatic cousin to read. Subsequently, and as
if to continue the joke, he sent him down to confer with the Secretary
of War. He soon returned from the latter's office with the report that
the head of the War Department could not be found; and it was well
enough that he did not meet that abrupt and oftentimes demonstrative
official. In the course of time, however, the latter happened in at the
Executive Mansion, and there, in the presence of Dennis, the President
sought to reopen the now noted Charleston case. Adopting Mr. Hanks'
version, the Secretary, with his characteristic plainness of speech,
referring to the prisoners, declared that "every d-d one of them should
be hung." Even the humane and kindly enquiry of the President, "If these
men should return home and become good citizens, who would be hurt?"
failed to convince the distinguished Secretary that the public good
could be promoted by so doing. The President not feeling willing to
override the judgment of his War Secretary in this instance, further
consideration of the case ceased, and his cousin returned to his home in
Illinois with his mission unaccomplished.*

     * The subsequent history of these riot cases I believe is
     that the prisoners were returned to Illinois to be tried in
     the State courts there; and that by successive changes of
     venue and continuances the cases were finally worn out.

Dennis retained a rather unfavorable impression of Mr. Stanton, whom he
described as a "frisky little Yankee with a short coat-tail." "I asked
Abe," he said to me once, "why he didn't kick him out. I told him he was
too fresh altogether."

Lincoln's answer was, "If I did, Dennis, it would be difficult to find
another man to fill his place." The President's cousin * sat in the
office during the endless interviews that take place between the head of
the nation and the latter's loyal subjects. He saw modesty and obscurity
mingling with the arrogance of pride and distinction. One day an
attractive and handsomely dressed woman called to procure the release
from prison of a relative in whom she professed the deepest interest.
She was a good talker, and her winning ways seemed to be making a deep
impression on the President. After listening to her story he wrote a few
lines on a card, enclosing it in an envelope and directing her to take
it to the Secretary of War. Before sealing it he showed it to Dennis. It
read: "This woman, dear Stanton, is a little smarter than she looks to
be." She had, woman-like, evidently overstated her case. Before night
another woman called, more humble in appearance, more plainly clad.
It was the old story. Father and son both in the army, the former in
prison. Could not the latter be discharged from the army and sent home
to help his mother? A few strokes of the pen, a gentle nod of the head,
and the little woman, her eyes filling with tears and expressing a
grateful acknowledgment her tongue could not utter, passed out.

     * During this visit Mr. Lincoln presented Dennis with a
     silver watch, which the latter still retains as a memento
     alike of the donor and his trip to Washington.


BEFORE passing to a brief and condensed view of the great panorama of
the war it will interest the reader and no doubt aid him greatly in
drawing the portrait of Lincoln to call up for the purpose two friends
of his, whose testimony is not only vivid and minute, but for certain
reasons unusually appropriate and essential. The two were devoted and
trusted friends of Lincoln; and while neither held office under him,
both were offered and both declined the same. That of itself ought not
to be considered as affecting or strengthening their statements, and
yet we sometimes think that friends who are strong enough to aid us,
and yet, declining our aid, take care of themselves, are brave enough
to tell us the truth. The two friends of Lincoln here referred to are
Joshua F. Speed and Leonard Swett. In quoting them I adhere strictly to
their written statements now in my possession. The former, under date
of December 6, 1866, says: "Mr. Lincoln was so unlike all the men I had
ever known before or seen or known since that there is no one to whom
I can compare him. In all his habits of eating, sleeping, reading,
conversation, and study he was, if I may so express it, regularly
irregular; that is, he had no stated time for eating, no fixed time for
going to bed, none for getting up. No course of reading was chalked out.
He read law, history, philosophy, or poetry; Burns, Byron, Milton, or
Shakespeare and the newspapers, retaining them all about as well as
an ordinary man would any one of them who made only one at a time his
study. I once remarked to him that his mind was a wonder to me; that
impressions were easily made upon it and never effaced. 'No,' said he,
'you are mistaken; I am slow to learn, and slow to forget that which
I have learned. My mind is like a piece of steel--very hard to scratch
anything on it, and almost impossible after you get it there to rub it
out.' I give this as his own illustration of the character of his mental
faculties; it is as good as any I have seen from anyone.

"The beauty of his character was its entire simplicity. He had no
affectation in anything. True to nature, true to himself, he was true
to everybody and everything around him. When he was ignorant on any
subject, no matter how simple it might make him appear, he was always
willing to acknowledge it. His whole aim in life was to be true to
himself, and being true to himself he could be false to no one.

"He had no vices, even as a young man. Intense thought with him was the
rule and not, as with most of us, the exception. He often said that he
could think better after breakfast, and better walking than sitting,
lying, or standing. His world-wide reputation for telling anecdotes and
telling them so well was in my judgment necessary to his very existence.
Most men who have been great students, such as he was, in their hours of
idleness have taken to the bottle, to cards or dice. He had no fondness
for any of these. Hence he sought relaxation in anecdotes. So far as
I now remember of his study for composition, it was to make short
sentences and a compact style. Illustrative of this it might be well
to state that he was a great admirer of the style of John C. Calhoun.
I remember reading to him one of Mr. Calhoun's speeches in reply to Mr.
Clay in the Senate, in which Mr. Clay had quoted precedent. Mr. Calhoun
replied (I quote from memory) that 'to legislate upon precedent is but
to make the error of yesterday the law of today.' Lincoln thought that
was a great truth and grandly uttered.

"Unlike all other men, there was entire harmony between his public and
private life. He must believe he was right, and that he had truth and
justice with him, or he was a weak man; but no man could be stronger if
he thought he was right.

"His familiar conversations were like his speeches and letters in this:
that while no set speech of his (save the Gettysburg address) will be
considered as entirely artistic and complete, yet, when the gems of
American literature come to be selected, as many will be culled from
Lincoln's speeches as from any American orator. So of his conversation,
and so of his private correspondence; all abound in gems.

"My own connection or relation with Mr. Lincoln during the war has so
often been commented on, and its extent so often enlarged upon, I
feel impelled to state that during his whole administration he never
requested me to do anything, except in my own State, and never much in
that except to advise him as to what measures and policy would be most
conducive to the growth of a healthy Union sentiment.

"My own opinion of the history of the Emancipation Proclamation is that
Mr. Lincoln foresaw the necessity for it long before he issued it.
He was anxious to avoid it, and came to it only when he saw that the
measure would subtract from its labor, and add to our army quite a
number of good fighting men. I have heard of the charge of duplicity
against him by certain Western members of Congress. I never believed
the charge, because he has told me from his own lips that the charge
was false. I, who knew him so well, could never after that credit the
report. At first I was opposed to the Proclamation, and so told him. I
remember well our conversation on the subject. He seemed to treat it as
certain that I would recognize the wisdom of the act when I should
see the harvest of good which we would ere long glean from it. In that
conversation he alluded to an incident in his life, long passed, when he
was so much depressed that he almost contemplated suicide. At the time
of his deep depression he said to me that he had 'done nothing to make
any human being remember that he had lived,' and that to connect his
name with the events transpiring in his day and generation, and so
impress himself upon them as to link his name with something that would
redound to the interest of his fellow man, was what he desired to
live for. He reminded me of that conversation, and said with earnest
emphasis, 'I believe that in this measure [meaning his Proclamation] my
fondest hope will be realized.' Over twenty years had passed between the
two conversations.

"The last interview but one I had with him was about ten days prior to
his last inauguration. Congress was drawing to a close; it had been an
important session; much attention had to be given to the important bills
he was signing; a great war was upon him and the country; visitors were
coming and going to the President with their varying complaints and
grievances from morning till night with almost as much regularity as the
ebb and flow of the tide; and he was worn down in health and spirits.
On this occasion I was sent for, to come and see him. Instructions were
given that when I came I should be admitted. When I entered his office
it was quite full, and many more--among them not a few Senators and
members of Congress--still waiting. As soon as I was fairly inside, the
President remarked that he desired to see me as soon as he was through
giving audiences, and that if I had nothing to do I could take the
papers and amuse myself in that or any other way I saw fit till he
was ready. In the room, when I entered, I observed sitting near the
fireplace, dressed in humble attire, two ladies modestly waiting their
turn. One after another of the visitors came and went, each bent on his
own particular errand, some satisfied and others evidently displeased
at the result of their mission. The hour had arrived to close the door
against all further callers. No one was left in the room now except the
President, the two ladies, and me. With a rather peevish and fretful air
he turned to them and said, 'Well, ladies, what can I do for you?' They
both commenced to speak at once. From what they said he soon learned
that one was the wife and the other the mother of two men imprisoned for
resisting the draft in western Pennsylvania. 'Stop,' said he, 'don't say
any more. Give me your petition.' The old lady responded, 'Mr. Lincoln,
we've got no petition; we couldn't write one and had no money to pay for
writing one, and I thought best to come and see you.' 'Oh,' said he,
'I understand your cases.' He rang his bell and ordered one of the
messengers to tell General Dana to bring him the names of all the men in
prison for resisting the draft in western Pennsylvania. The General
soon came with the list. He enquired if there was any difference in the
charges or degrees of guilt. The General replied that he knew of none.
'Well, then,' said he, 'these fellows have suffered long enough, and I
have thought so for some time, and now that my mind is on the subject I
believe I will turn out the whole flock. So, draw up the order, General,
and I will sign it.' It was done and the General left the room. Turning
to the women he said, 'Now, ladies, you can go.' The younger of the two
ran forward and was in the act of kneeling in thankfulness. 'Get up,' he
said; 'don't kneel to me, but thank God and go.' The old lady now came
forward with tears in her eyes to express her gratitude. 'Good-bye, Mr.
Lincoln,' said she; 'I shall probably never see you again till we meet
in heaven.' These were her exact words. She had the President's hand in
hers, and he was deeply moved. He instantly took her right hand in both
of his and, following her to the door, said, 'I am afraid with all my
troubles I shall never get to the resting-place you speak of; but if
I do I am sure I shall find you. That you wish me to get there is, I
believe, the best wish you could make for me. Good-bye.'

"We were now alone. I said to him, 'Lincoln, with my knowledge of your
nervous sensibility, it is a wonder that such scenes as this don't kill
you.' He thought for a moment and then answered in a languid voice,
'Yes, you are to a certain degree right. I ought not to undergo what I
so often do. I am very unwell now; my feet and hands of late seem to be
always cold, and I ought perhaps to be in bed; but things of the sort
you have just seen don't hurt me, for, to tell you the truth, that scene
is the only thing to-day that has made me forget my condition or given
me any pleasure. I have, in that order, made two people happy and
alleviated the distress of many a poor soul whom I never expect to see.
That old lady,' he continued, 'was no counterfeit. The mother spoke out
in all the features of her face. It is more than one can often say that
in doing right one has made two people happy in one day. Speed, die when
I may, I want it said of me by those who know me best, that I always
plucked a thistle and planted a flower when I thought a flower would
grow.' What a fitting sentiment! What a glorious recollection!"

The recollections of Lincoln by Mr. Swett are in the form of a letter
dated January 17, 1866. There is so much of what I know to be true
in it, and it is so graphically told, that although there maybe some
repetition of what has already been touched upon in the preceding
chapters, still I believe that the portrait of Lincoln will be made all
the more lifelike by inserting the letter without abridgment.

"Chicago, Ill., Jan. 17, 1866.

"Wm. H. Herndon, Esq.

"Springfield, Ill.

"Dear Sir: I received your letter to day, asking me to write you Friday.
Fearing if I delay, you will not get it in time, I will give you such
hasty thoughts as may occur to me to-night. I have mislaid your second
lecture, so that I have not read it at all, and have not read your first
one since about the time it was published. What I shall say, therefore,
will be based upon my own ideas rather than a review of the lecture.

"Lincoln's whole life was a calculation of the law of forces and
ultimate results. The whole world to him was a question of cause and
effect. He believed the results to which certain causes tended; he did
not believe that those results could be materially hastened or impeded.
His whole political history, especially since the agitation of the
slavery question, has been based upon this theory. He believed from
the first, I think, that the agitation of slavery would produce its
overthrow, and he acted upon the result as though it was present from
the beginning. His tactics were to get himself in the right place and
remain there still, until events would find him in that place. This
course of action led him to say and do things which could not be
understood when considered in reference to the immediate surroundings in
which they were done or said. You will remember, in his campaign
against Douglas in 1858, the first ten lines of the first speech he made
defeated him. The sentiment of the 'house divided against itself' seemed
wholly inappropriate. It was a speech made at the commencement of a
campaign, and apparently made for the campaign. Viewing it in this light
alone, nothing could have been more unfortunate or inappropriate. It was
saying just the wrong thing; yet he saw it was an abstract truth, and
standing by the speech would ultimately find him in the right place.
I was inclined at the time to believe these words were hastily and
inconsiderately uttered, but subsequent facts have convinced me they
were deliberate and had been matured. Judge T. L. Dickey says, that at
Bloomington, at the first Republican Convention in 1856, he uttered the
same sentences in a speech delivered there, and that after the meeting
was over, he (Dickey) called his attention to these remarks.

"Lincoln justified himself in making them by stating they were true; but
finally, at Dickey's urgent request, he promised that for his sake, or
upon his advice, he would not repeat them. In the summer of 1859, when
he was dining with a party of his intimate friends at Bloomington, the
subject of his Springfield speech was discussed. We all insisted it
was a great mistake, but he justified himself, and finally said, 'Well,
gentlemen, you may think that speech was a mistake, but I never have
believed it was, and you will see the day when you will consider it was
the wisest thing I ever said.'

"He never believed in political combinations, and consequently, whether
an individual man or class of men supported or opposed him, never made
any difference in his feelings, or his opinions of his own success. If
he was elected, he seemed to believe that no person or class of persons
could ever have defeated him, and if defeated, he believed nothing could
ever have elected him. Hence, when he was a candidate, he never
wanted anything done for him in the line of political combination or
management. He seemed to want to let the whole subject alone, and for
everybody else to do the same. I remember, after the Chicago Convention,
when a great portion of the East were known to be dissatisfied at
his nomination, when fierce conflicts were going on in New York and
Pennsylvania, and when great exertions seemed requisite to harmonize
and mould in concert the action of our friends, Lincoln always seemed
to oppose all efforts made in the direction of uniting the party. I
arranged with Mr. Thurlow Weed after the Chicago Convention to meet
him at Springfield. I was present at the interview, but Lincoln said
nothing. It was proposed that Judge Davis should go to New York and
Pennsylvania to survey the field and see what was necessary to be
done. Lincoln consented, but it was always my opinion that he consented

"He saw that the pressure of a campaign was the external force coercing
the party into unity. If it failed to produce that result, he believed
any individual effort would also fail. If the desired result followed,
he considered it attributable to the great cause, and not aided by the
lesser ones. He sat down in his chair in Springfield and made himself
the Mecca to which all politicians made pilgrimages. He told them all a
story, said nothing, and sent them away. All his efforts to procure a
second nomination were in the same direction. I believe he earnestly
desired that nomination. He was much more eager for it than he was for
the first, and yet from the beginning he discouraged all efforts on the
part of his friends to obtain it. From the middle of his first term all
his adversaries were busily at work for themselves. Chase had three or
four secret societies and an immense patronage extending all over the
country. Frémont was constantly at work, yet Lincoln would never do
anything either to hinder them or to help himself.

"He was considered too conservative, and his adversaries were trying
to outstrip him in satisfying the radical element. I had a conversation
with him upon this subject in October, 1863, and tried to induce him to
recommend in his annual message a constitutional amendment abolishing
slavery. I told him I was not very radical, but I believed the result of
the war would be the extermination of slavery; that Congress would pass
the amendment making the slave free, and that it was proper at that time
to be done. I told him also, if he took that stand, it was an outside
position, and no one could maintain himself upon any measure more
radical, and if he failed to take the position, his rivals would.
Turning to me suddenly he said, 'Is not the question of emancipation
doing well enough now?' I replied it was. 'Well,'said he, 'I have
never done an official act with a view to promote my own personal
aggrandizement, and I don't like to begin now. I can see that
emancipation is coming; whoever can wait for it will see it; whoever
stands in its way will be run over by it.'

"His rivals were using money profusely; journals and influences were
being subsidized against him. I accidentally learned that a Washington
newspaper, through a purchase of the establishment, was to be turned
against him, and consulted him about taking steps to prevent it. The
only thing I could get him to say was that he would regret to see the
paper turned against him. Whatever was done had to be done without his
knowledge. Mr. Bennett of the _Herald_, with his paper, you know, is a
power. The old gentleman wanted to be noticed by Lincoln, and he wanted
to support him. A friend of his, who was certainly in his secrets, came
to Washington and intimated if Lincoln would invite Bennett to come over
and chat with him, his paper would be all right. Mr. Bennett wanted
nothing, he simply wanted to be noticed. Lincoln in talking about it
said, 'I understand it; Bennett has made a great deal of money, some say
not very properly, now he wants me to make him respectable. I have never
invited Mr. Bryant or Mr. Greeley here; I shall not, therefore,
especially invite Mr. Bennett.' All Lincoln would say was, that he was
receiving everybody, and he should receive Mr. Bennett if he came.

"Notwithstanding his entire inaction, he never for a moment doubted his
second nomination. One time in his room discussing with him who his real
friends were, he told me, if I would not show it, he would make a list
of how the Senate stood. When he got through, I pointed out some five or
six, and I told him I knew he was mistaken about them. Said he, 'You
may think so, but you keep that until the convention and tell me then
whether I was right.' He was right to a man. He kept a kind of account
book of how things were progressing, for three or four months, and
whenever I would get nervous and think things were going wrong, he would
get out his estimates and show how everything on the great scale of
action, such as the resolutions of legislatures, the instructions
of delegates, and things of that character, were going exactly as
he expected. These facts, with many others of a kindred nature, have
convinced me that he managed his politics upon a plan entirely different
from any other man the country has ever produced.

"He managed his campaigns by ignoring men and by ignoring all small
causes, but by closely calculating the tendencies of events and the
great forces which were producing logical results.

"In his conduct of the war he acted upon the theory that but one
thing was necessary, and that was a united North. He had all shades of
sentiments and opinions to deal with, and the consideration was
always presented to his mind, how can I hold these discordant elements

"It was here that he located his own greatness as a President. One time,
about the middle of the war, I left his house about eleven o'clock at
night, at the Soldiers' Home. We had been discussing the discords in
the country, and particularly the States of Missouri and Kentucky. As we
separated at the door he said, 'I may not have made as great a President
as some other men, but I believe I have kept these discordant elements
together as well as anyone could.' Hence, in dealing with men he was a
trimmer, and such a trimmer the world has never seen. Halifax, who was
great in his day as a trimmer, would blush by the side of Lincoln; yet
Lincoln never trimmed in principles, it was only in his conduct with
men. He used the patronage of his office to feed the hunger of
these various factions. Weed always declared that he kept a regular
account-book of his appointments in New York, dividing his various
favors so as to give each faction more than it could get from any other
source, yet never enough to satisfy its appetite.

"They all had access to him, they all received favors from him, and they
all complained of ill treatment; but while unsatisfied, they all had
'large expectations,' and saw in him the chance of obtaining more than
from anyone else whom they could be sure of getting in his place.
He used every force to the best possible advantage. He never wasted
anything, and would always give more to his enemies than he would to his
friends; and the reason was, because he never had anything to spare, and
in the close calculation of attaching the factions to him, he counted
upon the abstract affection of his friends as an element to be offset
against some gift with which he must appease his enemies. Hence, there
was always some truth in the charge of his friends that he failed to
reciprocate their devotion with his favors. The reason was, that he had
only just so much to give away--'He always had more horses than oats.'

"An adhesion of all forces was indispensable to his success and the
success of the country; hence he husbanded his means with the greatest
nicety of calculation. Adhesion was what he wanted; if he got it
gratuitously he never wasted his substance paying for it.

"His love of the ludicrous was not the least peculiar of his
characteristics. His love of fun made him overlook everything else but
the point of the joke sought after. If he told a good story that was
refined and had a sharp point, he did not like it any the better because
it was refined. If it was outrageously vulgar, he never seemed to see
that part of it, if it had the sharp ring of wit; nothing ever reached
him but the wit. Almost any man that will tell a very vulgar story, has,
in a degree, a vulgar mind; but it was not so with him; with all his
purity of character and exalted morality and sensibility, which no
man can doubt, when hunting for wit he had no ability to discriminate
between the vulgar and the refined substances from which he extracted
it. It was the wit he was after, the pure jewel, and he would pick it
up out of the mud or dirt just as readily as he would from a parlor

"He had great kindness of heart. His mind was full of tender
sensibilities, and he was extremely humane, yet while these attributes
were fully developed in his character, and, unless intercepted by his
judgment, controlled him, they never did control him contrary to his
judgment. He would strain a point to be kind, but he never strained
it to breaking. Most men of much kindly feeling are controlled by this
sentiment against their judgment, or rather that sentiment beclouds
their judgment. It was never so with him; he would be just as kind and
generous as his judgment would let him be--no more. If he ever deviated
from this rule, it was to save life. He would sometimes, I think, do
things he knew to be impolitic and wrong to save some poor fellow's
neck. I remember one day being in his room when he was sitting at his
table with a large pile of papers before him, and after a pleasant talk
he turned quite abruptly and said, 'Get out of the way, Swett; to-morrow
is butcher-day, and I must go through these papers and see if I cannot
find some excuse to let these poor fellows off.' The pile of papers he
had were the records of courts martial of men who on the following day
were to be shot. He was not examining the records to see whether the
evidence sustained the findings; he was purposely in search of occasions
to evade the law, in favor of life.

"Some of Lincoln's friends have insisted that he lacked the strong
attributes of personal affection which he ought to have exhibited; but
I think this is a mistake. Lincoln had too much justice to run a great
government for a few favors; and the complaints against him in this
regard, when properly digested, seem to amount to this and no more, that
he would not abuse the privileges of his situation.

"He was certainly a very poor hater. He never judged men by his like
or dislike for them. If any given act was to be performed, he could
understand that his enemy could do it just as well as anyone. If a man
had maligned him or been guilty of personal ill-treatment, and was the
fittest man for the place, he would give him that place just as soon as
he would give it to a friend.

"I do not think he ever removed a man because he was his enemy or
because he disliked him.

"The great secret of his power as an orator, in my judgment, lay in the
clearness and perspicuity of his statements. When Mr. Lincoln had stated
a case it was always more than half argued and the point more than half
won. It is said that some one of the crowned heads of Europe proposed
to marry when he had a wife living. A gentleman, hearing of this
proposition, replied, how could he? 'Oh,' replied his friend, 'he could
marry and then he could get Mr. Gladstone to make an explanation about
it.' This was said to illustrate the convincing power of Mr. Gladstone's

"Mr. Lincoln had this power greater than any man I have ever known. The
first impression he generally conveyed was, that he had stated the case
of his adversary better and more forcibly than his opponent could state
it himself. He then answered that statement of facts fairly and fully,
never passing by or skipping over a bad point.

"When this was done he presented his own case. There was a feeling,
when he argued a case, in the mind of any man who listened to it, that
nothing had been passed over; yet if he could not answer the objections
he argued, in his own mind, and himself arrive at the conclusion to
which he was leading others, he had very little power of argumentation.
The force of his logic was in conveying to the minds of others the
same clear and thorough analysis he had in his own, and if his own mind
failed to be satisfied, he had little power to satisfy anybody else. He
never made a sophistical argument in his life, and never could make one.
I think he was of less real aid in trying a thoroughly bad case than any
man I was ever associated with. If he could not grasp the whole case and
believe in it, he was never inclined to touch it.

"From the commencement of his life to its close, I have sometimes
doubted whether he ever asked anybody's advice about anything. He would
listen to everybody; he would hear everybody; but he rarely, if ever,
asked for opinions. I never knew him in trying a case to ask the advice
of any lawyer he was associated with.

"As a politician and as President, he arrived at all his conclusions
from his own reflections, and when his opinion was once formed, he never
doubted but what it was right.

"One great public mistake of his character, as generally received and
acquiesced in, is that he is considered by the people of this country as
a frank, guileless, and unsophisticated man. There never was a greater
mistake. Beneath a smooth surface of candor and apparent declaration of
all his thoughts and feelings, he exercised the most exalted tact and
the wisest discrimination. He handled and moved men remotely as we do
pieces upon a chess-board. He retained through life all the friends he
ever had, and he made the wrath of his enemies to praise him. This was
not by cunning or intrigue, in the low acceptation of the term, but by
far-seeing reason and discernment. He always told enough only of his
plans and purposes to induce the belief that he had communicated all,
yet he reserved enough to have communicated nothing. He told all that
was unimportant with a gushing frankness, yet no man ever kept his real
purposes closer, or penetrated the future further with his deep designs.

"You ask me whether he changed his religious opinions towards the
close of his life. I think not. As he became involved in matters of the
greatest importance, full of great responsibility and great doubt, a
feeling of religious reverence, a belief in God and his justice and
overruling power increased with him. He was always full of natural
religion; he believed in God as much as the most approved Church member,
yet he judged of Him by the same system of generalization as he judged
everything else. He had very little faith in ceremonials or forms. In
fact he cared nothing for the form of anything. But his heart was full
of natural and cultivated religion. He believed in the great laws of
truth, and the rigid discharge of duty, his accountability to God,
the ultimate triumph of the right and the overthrow of wrong. If his
religion were to be judged by the lines and rules of Church creeds
he would fall far short of the standard; but if by the higher rule of
purity of conduct, of honesty of motive, of unyielding fidelity to the
right, and acknowledging God as the supreme ruler, then he filled all
the requirements of true devotion, and his whole life was a life of love
to God, and love of his neighbor as of himself.

"Yours truly,

"Leonard Swett."


The outlines of Mr. Lincoln's Presidential career are alone sufficient
to fill a volume, and his history after he had been sworn into office by
Chief Justice Taney is so much a history of the entire country, and has
been so admirably and thoroughly told by others, that I apprehend I can
omit many of the details and still not impair the portrait I have been
endeavoring to draw in the mind of the reader. The rapid shifting of
scenes in the drama of secession, the disclosure of rebellious plots
and conspiracies, the threats of Southern orators and newspapers, all
culminating in the attack on Fort Sumter, brought the newly installed
President face to face with the stern and grave realities of a civil

     * "Lincoln then told me of his last interview with Douglas.
     'One day Douglas came rushing in,' he related, 'and said he
     had just got a telegraph despatch from some friends in
     Illinois urging him to come out and help set things right in
     Egypt, and that he would go, or stay in Washington, just
     where I thought he could do the most good. I told him to do
     as he chose, but that he could probably do best in Illinois.
     Upon that he shook hands with me and hurried away to catch
     the next train. I never saw him again.'"--Henry C. Whitney,
     MS. letter, November 13, 1866.

Mr. Lincoln's military knowledge had been acquired in the famous
campaign against the Indian Chief Black Hawk on the frontier in 1832,
the thrilling details of which he had already given the country in a
Congressional stump-speech; and to this store of experience he had made
little if any addition. It was therefore generally conceded that in
grappling with the realities of the problem which now confronted both
himself and the country he would be wholly dependent on those who had
made the profession of arms a life-work. Those who held such hastily
conceived notions of Mr. Lincoln were evidently misled by his well-known
and freely advertised Democratic manners. Anybody had a right, it was
supposed, to advise him of his duty; and he was so conscious of his
shortcomings as a military President that the army officers and Cabinet
would run the Government and conduct the war. That was the popular
idea. Little did the press, or people, or politicians then know that
the country lawyer who occupied the executive chair was the most
self-reliant man who ever sat in it, and that when the crisis came his
rivals in the Cabinet, and the people everywhere, would learn that he
and he alone would be master of the situation.

It is doubtless true that for a long time after his entry into office he
did not assert himself; that is, not realizing the gigantic scale upon
which the war was destined to be fought, he may have permitted the idea
to go forth that being unused to the command of armies he would place
himself entirely in the hands of those who were.*

     * I was in Washington in the Indian service for a few days
     before August, 1861, and I merely said to Lincoln one day,
     'Everything is drifting into the war, and I guess you will
     have to put me in the army.' He looked up from his work and
     said, good-humoredly, 'I'm making generals now. In a few
     days I will be making quartermasters, and then I'll fix
     you.'"---H. C. Whitney, MS. letter, June 13, 1866.

The Secretary of State, whose ten years in the Senate had acquainted
him with our relations to foreign powers, may have been lulled into the
innocent belief that the Executive would have no fixed or definite views
on international questions. So also of the other Cabinet officers; but
alas for their fancied security! It was the old story of the sleeping
lion. Old politicians, eying him with some distrust and want of
confidence, prepared themselves to control his administration, not only
as a matter of right, but believing that he would be compelled to rely
upon them for support. A brief experience taught them he was not the man
they bargained for.

[Illustration: Portraits 285]

Next in importance to the attack on Fort Sumter, from a military
standpoint, was the battle of Bull Run. How the President viewed it is
best illustrated by an incident furnished by an old friend * who was
an associate of his in the Legislature of Illinois, and who was in
Washington when the engagement took place.

     * Robert L. Wilson, MS., Feb. 10, 1866.

"The night after the battle," he relates, "accompanied by two Wisconsin
Congressmen, I called at the White House to get the news from Manassas,
as it was then called, having failed in obtaining any information at
Seward's office and elsewhere. Stragglers were coming with all sorts of
wild rumors, but nothing more definite than that there had been a great
engagement; and the bearer of each report had barely escaped with his
life. Messengers bearing despatches to the President and Secretary of
War were constantly arriving, but outsiders could gather nothing worthy
of belief. Having learned that Mr. Lincoln was at the War Department we
started thither, but found the building surrounded by a great crowd, all
as much in the dark as we. Removing a short distance away we sat down to
rest. Presently Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Nicolay, his private secretary, came
along, headed for the White House. It was proposed by my companions that
as I was acquainted with the President I should join him and ask for the
news. I did so, but he said that he had already told more than under the
rules of the War Department he had any right to, and that, although
he could see no harm in it, the Secretary of War had forbidden his
imparting information to persons not in the military service. 'These war
fellows,' he said, complainingly, 'are very strict with me, and I regret
that I am prevented from telling you anything; but I must obey them,
I suppose, until I get the hang of things.' 'But, Mr. President,' I
insisted, 'if you cannot tell me the news, you can at least indicate
its nature, that is, whether good or bad.' The suggestion struck him
favorably. Grasping my arm he leaned over, and placing his face near my
ear, said, in a shrill but subdued voice, 'It's d------d bad.' It was
the first time I had ever heard him use profane language, if indeed it
was profane in that connection; but later, when the painful details of
the fight came in, I realized that, taking into consideration the
time and the circumstances, no other term would have contained a truer
qualification of the word 'bad.'"

"About one week after the battle of Bull Run," relates another old
friend--Whitney--from Illinois, "I made a call on Mr. Lincoln, having
no business except to give him some presents which the nuns at the Osage
Mission school in Kansas had sent to him through me. A Cabinet meeting
had just adjourned, and I was directed to go at once to his room. He was
keeping at bay a throng of callers, but, noticing me enter, arose
and greeted me with his old-time cordiality. After the room had been
partially cleared of visitors Secretary Seward came in and called up
a case which related to the territory of New Mexico. 'Oh, I see,' said
Lincoln; 'they have neither Governor nor Government. Well, you see Jim
Lane; the secretary is his man, and he must hunt him up,' Seward then
left, under the impression, as I then thought, that Lincoln wanted to
get rid of him and diplomacy at the same time. Several other persons
were announced, but Lincoln notified them all that he was busy and could
not see them. He was playful and sportive as a child, told me all sorts
of anecdotes, dealing largely in stories about Charles James Fox, and
enquired after several odd characters whom we both knew in Illinois.
While thus engaged General James was announced. This officer had sent
in word that he would leave town that evening, and must confer with
the President before going. 'Well, as he is one of the fellows who make
cannons,' observed Lincoln, 'I suppose I must see him. Tell him when I
get through with Whitney I'll see him.' No more cards came up, and James
left about five o'clock, declaring that the President was closeted with
'an old Hoosier from Illinois, and was telling dirty yarns while the
country was quietly going to hell.' But, however indignant General
James may have felt, and whatever the people may have thought, still the
President was full of the war. He got down his maps of the seat of
war," continues Whitney, "and gave me a full history of the preliminary
discussions and steps leading to the battle of Bull Run. He was opposed
to the battle, and explained to General Scott by those very maps how the
enemy could by the aid of the railroad reinforce their army at Manassas
Gap until they had brought every man there, keeping us meanwhile
successfully at bay. 'I showed to General Scott our paucity of railroad
advantages at that point,' said Lincoln, 'and their plenitude, but Scott
was obdurate and would not listen to the possibility of defeat. Now you
see I was right, and Scott knows it, I reckon. My plan was, and still
is, to make a strong feint against Richmond and distract their forces
before attacking Manassas. That problem General McClellan is now trying
to work out.' Mr. Lincoln then told me of the plan he had recommended
to McClellan, which was to send gunboats up one of the rivers--not the
James--in the direction of Richmond, and divert the enemy there while
the main attack was made at Manassas. I took occasion to say that
McClellan was ambitious to be his successor. 'I am perfectly willing,'
he answered, 'if he will only put an end to this war.'"*

     * This interview with Lincoln was written out during the
     war, and contains many of his peculiarities of expression.

The interview of Mr. Whitney with the President on this occasion is
especially noteworthy because the latter unfolded to him his idea of the
general plan formed in his mind to suppress the rebellion movement and
defeat the Southern army. "The President," continues Mr. Whitney, "now
explained to me his theory of the Rebellion by the aid of the maps
before him. Running his long forefinger down the map he stopped at
Virginia. 'We must drive them away from here (Manassas Gap),' he said,
'and clear them out of this part of the State so that they cannot
threaten us here (Washington) and get into Maryland. We must keep up a
good and thorough blockade of their ports. We must march an army into
east Tennessee and liberate the Union sentiment there. Finally we must
rely on the people growing tired and saying to their leaders: 'We have
had enough of this thing, we will bear it no longer.'"

Such was Mr. Lincoln's plan for heading off the Rebellion in the
summer of 1861. How it enlarged as the war progressed, from a call for
seventy-five thousand volunteers to one for five hundred thousand men
and five hundred millions of dollars, is a matter now of well-known
history. The war once inaugurated, it was plain the North had three
things to do. These were: the opening of the Mississippi River;
the blockade of the Southern ports; and the capture of Richmond. To
accomplish these great and vital ends the deadly machinery of war was
set in motion. The long-expected upheaval had come, and as the torrent
of fire broke forth the people in the agony of despair looking aloft
cried out, "Is our leader equal to the task?" That he was the man for
the hour is now the calm, unbiassed judgment of all mankind.

The splendid victories early in 1862 in the southwest, which gave the
Union cause great advance toward the entire redemption of Kentucky,
Tennessee, and Missouri from the presence of rebel armies and the
prevalence of rebel influence, were counterbalanced by the dilatory
movements and inactive policy of McClellan, who had been appointed
in November of the preceding year to succeed the venerable Scott. The
forbearance of Lincoln in dealing with McClellan was only in keeping
with his well-known spirit of kindness; but, when the time came and
circumstances warranted it, the soldier-statesman found that the
President not only comprehended the scope of the war, but was determined
to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy himself. When it pleased
him to place McClellan again at the head of affairs, over the protest of
such a wilful and indomitable spirit as Stanton, he displayed elements
of rare leadership and evidence of uncommon capacity. His confidence in
the ability and power of Grant, when the press and many of the people
had turned against the hero of Vicksburg, was but another proof of his
sagacity and sound judgment.

As the bloody drama of war moves along we come now to the crowning act
in Mr. Lincoln's career--that sublime stroke with which his name will be
forever and indissolubly united--the emancipation of the slaves. In the
minds of many people there had been a crying need for the liberation of
the slaves. Laborious efforts had been made to hasten the issuance by
the President of the Emancipation Proclamation, but he was determined
not to be forced into premature and inoperative measures. Wendell
Phillips abused and held him up to public ridicule from the stump in New
England. Horace Greeley turned the batteries of the New York _Tribune_
against him; and, in a word, he encountered all the rancor and hostility
of his old friends the Abolitionists. General Frémont having in the fall
of 1861 undertaken by virtue of his authority as a military commander
to emancipate the slaves in his department, the President annulled
the order, which he characterized as unauthorized and premature. This
precipitated an avalanche of fanatical opposition. Individuals and
delegations, many claiming to have been sent by the Lord, visited him
day after day, and urged immediate emancipation. In August, 1862, Horace
Greeley repeated the "prayer of twenty millions of people" protesting
against any further delay. Such was the pressure from the outside. All
his life Mr. Lincoln had been a believer in the doctrine of gradual
emancipation. He advocated it while in Congress in 1848; yet even now,
as a military necessity, he could not believe the time was ripe for the
general liberation of the slaves. All the coercion from without, and all
the blandishments from within, his political household failed to move
him. An heroic figure, indifferent alike to praise and blame, he stood
at the helm and waited. In the shadow of his lofty form the smaller men
could keep up their petty conflicts. Towering thus, he overlooked them
all, and fearlessly abided his time. At last the great moment came.
He called his Cabinet together and read the decree. The deed was done,
unalterably, unhesitatingly, irrevocably, and triumphantly. The people,
at first profoundly impressed, stood aloof, but, seeing the builder
beside the great structure he had so long been rearing, their confidence
was abundantly renewed. It was a glorious work, "sincerely believed
to be an act of justice warranted by the constitution upon military
necessity," and upon it its author "invoked the considerate judgment of
mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God." I believe Mr. Lincoln
wished to go down in history as the liberator of the black man. He
realized to its fullest extent the responsibility and magnitude of the
act, and declared it was "the central act of his administration and the
great event of the nineteenth century." Always a friend of the negro,
he had from boyhood waged a bitter unrelenting warfare against his
enslavement. He had advocated his cause in the courts, on the stump, in
the Legislature of his State and that of the nation, and, as if to
crown it with a sacrifice, he sealed his devotion to the great cause
of freedom with his blood. As the years roll slowly by, and the
participants in the late war drop gradually out of the ranks of men,
let us pray that we may never forget their deeds of patriotic valor; but
even if the details of that bloody struggle grow dim, as they will with
the lapse of time, let us hope that so long as a friend of free man
and free labor lives the dust of forgetfulness may never settle on the
historic form of Abraham Lincoln.

As the war progressed, there was of course much criticism of Mr.
Lincoln's policy, and some of his political rivals lost no opportunity
to encourage opposition to his methods. He bore everything meekly and
with sublime patience, but as the discontent appeared to spread he felt
called upon to indicate his course. On more than one occasion he pointed
out the blessings of the Emancipation Proclamation or throttled the
clamorer for immediate peace. In the following letter to James C.
Conkling* of Springfield, Ill., in reply to an invitation to attend a
mass meeting of "Unconditional Union" men to be held at his old home,
he not only disposed of the advocates of compromise, but he evinced the
most admirable skill in dealing with the questions of the day.

     * "Springfield, III., January 11, 1889.

     "Jesse W. Weik, Esq.

     "Dear Sir:

     "I enclose you a copy of the letter dated August 26, 1863,
     by Mr. Lincoln to me. It has been carefully compared with
     the original and is a correct copy, except that the words
     commencing 'I know as fully as one can know' to the words
     'You say you will fight to free negroes' were not included
     in the original, but were telegraphed the next day with
     instructions to insert. The following short note in Mr.
     Lincoln's own handwriting accompanied the letter:

     [Private.] "'War Department,

     "'Washington City, D. C., August 27, 1862.

     "'My Dear Conkling:

     "'I cannot leave here now. Herewith is a letter instead. You
     are one of the best public readers. I have but one
     suggestion--read it very slowly. And now God bless you, and
     all good Union men.

     "'Yours as ever,

     "'A. Lincoln."

"Mr. Bancroft, the historian, in commenting on this letter, considers it
addressed to me as one who was criticising Mr. Lincoln's policy. On the
contrary, I was directed by a meeting of 'Unconditional Union' men to
invite Mr. Lincoln to attend a mass meeting composed of such men, and he
simply took occasion to address his opponents through the medium of the

"Executive Mansion, Washington, August 26, 1863.

"Hon. James C. Conkling.

"My Dear Sir:

"Your letter inviting me to attend a mass meeting of Unconditional Union
men, to be held at the Capitol of Illinois, on the 3d day of September,
has been received.

"It would be very agreeable to me to thus meet my old friends at my own
home; but I cannot, just now, be absent from here so long as a visit
there would require.

"The meeting is to be of all those who maintain unconditional devotion
to the Union; and I am sure my old political friends will thank me for
tendering, as I do, the nation's gratitude to those other noble men,
whom no partisan malice, or partisan's hope, can make false to the
nation's life.

"There are those who are dissatisfied with me. To such I would say: You
desire peace; and you blame me that we do not have it. But how can we
attain it? There are but three conceivable ways.

"First, to suppress the rebellion by force of arms. This I am trying to
do. Are you for it? If you are, so far we are agreed. If you are not for
it, a second way is, to give up the Union. I am against this. Are
you for it? If you are, you should say so plainly. If you are not for
_force_, nor yet for _dissolution_, there only remains some imaginable
_compromise_. I do not believe any compromise, embracing the maintenance
of the Union, is now possible. All I learn leads to a directly opposite
belief. The strength of the rebellion is its military--its army. That
army dominates all the country and all the people within its range. Any
offer of terms made by any man or men within that range in opposition
to that army is simply nothing for the present, because such man or men
have no power whatever to enforce their side of a compromise, if one
were made with them. To illustrate: suppose refugees from the South,
and peace men of the North, get together in convention and frame and
proclaim a compromise embracing a restoration of the Union; in what
way can that compromise be used to keep Lee's army out of Pennsylvania?
Meade's army can keep Lee's army out of Pennsylvania, and I think can
ultimately drive it out of existence.

"But no paper compromise, to which the controllers of Lee's army are not
agreed, can at all affect that army. In an effort at such compromise we
should waste time, which the enemy would improve to our disadvantage;
and that would be all. A compromise, to be effective, must be made
either with those who control the rebel army, or with the people first
liberated from the domination of that army by the success of our own
army. Now allow me to assure you that no word or intimation from that
rebel army or from any of the men controlling it, in relation to any
peace compromise, has ever come to my knowledge or belief.

"All changes and insinuations to the contrary are deceptive and
groundless. And I promise you that, if any such proposition shall
hereafter come, it shall not be rejected and kept a secret from you. I
freely acknowledge myself the servant of the people, according to the
bond of service--the United States Constitution, and that, as such, I am
responsible to them.

"But to be plain, you are dissatisfied with me about the negro. Quite
likely there is a difference of opinion between you and myself upon that

"I certainly wish that all men could be free, while I suppose you do
not. Yet I have neither adopted nor proposed any measure which is
not consistent with even your view, provided you are for the Union. I
suggested compensated emancipation; to which you replied you wished not
to be taxed to buy negroes. But I had not asked you to be taxed to buy
negroes, except in such way as to save you from greater taxation to save
the Union exclusively by other means.

"You dislike the Emancipation Proclamation, and, perhaps, would have it
retracted. You say it is unconstitutional--I think differently. I think
the constitution invests its Commander-in-chief with the law of war in
time of war. The most that can be said, if so much, is that slaves are
property. Is there--has there ever been--any question that by the law of
war, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken when needed?

"And is it not needed wherever taking it helps us or hurts the enemy?
Armies the world over destroy enemies' property when they cannot use
it; and even destroy their own to keep it from the enemy. Civilized
belligerents do all in their power to help themselves or hurt the enemy,
except a few things regarded as barbarous or cruel.

"Among the exceptions are the massacre of vanquished foes and
non-combatants, male and female.

"But the proclamation, as law, either is valid or is not valid.

"If it is not valid, it needs no retraction. If it is valid, it cannot
be retracted any more than the dead can be brought to life. Some of you
profess to think its retraction would operate favorably for the Union.

"Why _better_ after the retraction than _before_ the issue?

"There was more than a year and a half of trial to suppress the
rebellion before the proclamation issued, the last one hundred days of
which passed under an explicit notice that it was coming, unless averted
by those in revolt returning to their allegiance.

"The war has certainly progressed as favorably for us since the issue of
the proclamation as before.

"I know as fully as one can know the opinion of others that some of
the commanders of our armies in the field who have given us our most
important successes believe the emancipation policy and the use of the
colored troops constituted the heaviest blow yet dealt to the Rebellion,
and that at least one of these important successes could not have
been achieved when it was but for the aid of black soldiers. Among the
commanders holding these views are some who have never had any affinity
with what is called abolitionism or with Republican party policies, but
who held them purely as military opinions. I submit these opinions as
being entitled to some weight against the objections often urged that
emancipation and arming the blacks are unwise as military measures, and
were not adopted as such in good faith.

"You say you will not fight to free negroes. Some of them seem willing
to fight for you; but no matter.

"Fight you, then, exclusively to save the Union. I issued the
proclamation on purpose to aid you in saving the Union. Whenever you
shall have conquered all resistance to the Union, if I shall urge you
to continue fighting, it will be an apt time then for you to declare you
will not fight to free negroes.

"I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the
negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the
enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think differently? I thought that
whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers leaves just so much less
for white soldiers to do, in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise
to you?

"But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do
anything for us, if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their
lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive--even the
promise of freedom. And the promise being made, must be kept.

"The signs look better. The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the
sea. Thanks to the great North-west for it. Nor yet wholly to them.
Three hundred miles up they met New England, Empire, Keystone, and
Jersey, hewing their way right and left. The Sunny South too, in more
colors than one, also lent a hand.

"On the spot, their part of the history was jotted down in black and
white. The job was a great national one; and let none be barred who
bore an honorable part in it. And while those who have cleared the great
river may well be proud, even that is not all. It is hard to say
that anything has been more bravely and well done than at Antietam,
Murfreesboro, Gettysburg, and on many fields of lesser note. Nor must
Uncle Sam's web-feet be forgotten. At all the watery margins they have
been present. Not only on the deep sea, the broad bay, and the rapid
river, but also up the narrow, muddy bayou, and wherever the ground was
a little damp, they have been, and made their tracks, thanks to all. For
the great republic--for the principle it lives by and keeps alive--for
man's vast future--thanks to all.

"Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon
and come to stay, and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future
time. It will then have been proved that, among free men, there can be
no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and that they who
take such appeal are sure to lose their case and pay the cost. And then
there will be some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue,
and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, they have
helped mankind on to this great consummation; while I fear there will
be some white ones, unable to forget that, with malignant heart and
deceitful speech, they have strove to hinder it.

"Still, let us not be over-sanguine of a speedy final triumph. Let us
be quite sober. Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that a
just God, in his own good time, will give us the rightful result.

"Yours very truly,

"A. Lincoln."

The summer and fall of 1864 were marked by Lincoln's second Presidential
campaign, he, and Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, for Vice-President,
having been nominated at Baltimore on the 8th of June. Frémont, who had
been placed in the field by a convention of malcontents at Cleveland,
Ohio, had withdrawn in September, and the contest was left to Lincoln
and General George B. McClellan, the nominee of the Democratic
convention at Chicago. The canvass was a heated and bitter one.
Dissatisfied elements appeared everywhere. The Judge Advocate-General
of the army (Holt) created a sensation by the publication of a report
giving conclusive proof of the existence of an organized secret
association at the North, controlled by prominent men in the
Democratic party, whose objects were the overthrow by revolution of the
administration in the interest of the rebellion.*

     * "Mr. Lincoln was advised, and I also so advised him, that
     the various military trials in the Northern and Border
     States, where the courts were free and untrammelled, were
     unconstitutional and wrong; that they would not and ought
     not to be sustained by the Supreme Court; that such
     proceedings were dangerous to liberty. He said he was
     opposed to hanging; that he did not like to kill his fellow-
     man; that if the world had no butchers but himself it would
     go bloodless. When Joseph E. McDonald went to Lincoln about
     these military trials and asked him not to execute the men
     who had been convicted by the military commission in Indiana
     he answered that he would not hang them, but added, 'I'll
     keep them in prison awhile to keep them from killing the
     Government.' I am fully satisfied therefore that Lincoln was
     opposed to these military commissions, especially in the
     Northern States, where everything was open and free."--David
     Davis, statement, September 10, 1866, to W. H. H.

     "I was counsel for Bowles, Milligan, et al.** who had been
     convicted of conspiracy by military tribunal in Indiana.
     Early in 1865 I went to Washington to confer with the
     President, whom I had known, and with whom in earlier days I
     had practised law on the circuit in Illinois. My clients had
     been sentenced, and unless the President interfered were to
     have been executed. Mr. Hendricks, who was then in the
     Senate, and who seemed to have little faith in the
     probability of executive clemency, accompanied me to the
     White House. It was early in the evening, and so many
     callers and visitors had preceded us we anticipated a very
     brief interview. Much to our surprise we found Mr. Lincoln
     in a singularly cheerful and reminiscent mood. He kept us
     with him till almost eleven o'clock. He went over the
     history of my clients' crime as shown by the papers in the
     case, and suggested certain errors and imperfections in the
     record. The papers, he explained, would have to be returned
     for correction, and that would consume no little time. 'You
     may go home, Mr. McDonald,' he said, with a pleased
     expression, 'and Ill send for you when the papers get back;
     but I apprehend and hope there will be such a jubilee over
     yonder,' he added, pointing to the hills of Virginia just
     across the river, 'we shall none of us want any more killing
     done.' The papers started on their long and circuitous
     journey, and sure enough, before they reached Washington
     again Mr. Lincoln's prediction of the return of peace had
     proved true."--Hon. Joseph E. McDonald, statement, August
     28,1888, to J. W. W.

Threats were rife of a revolution at the North, especially in New York
City, if Mr. Lincoln were elected. Mr. Lincoln went steadily on in
his own peculiar way. In a preceding chapter Mr. Swett has told us how
indifferent he appeared to be regarding any efforts to be made in his
behalf. He did his duty as President, and rested secure in the belief
that he would be re-elected whatever might be done for or against him.
The importance of retaining Indiana in the column of Republican States
was not to be overlooked. How the President viewed it, and how he
proposed to secure the vote of the State, is shown in the following
letter written to General Sherman:

"Executive Mansion,

"Washington, September 19, 1864.

"Major General Sherman:

"The State election of Indiana occurs on the 11th of October, and the
loss of it to the friends of the Government would go far towards losing
the whole Union cause. The bad effect upon the November election, and
especially the giving the State government to those who will oppose the
war in every possible way, are too much to risk if it can be avoided.
The draft proceeds, notwithstanding its strong tendency to lose us
the State. Indiana is the only important State voting in October whose
soldiers cannot vote in the field. Anything you can safely do to let her
soldiers or any part of them go home and vote at the State election will
be greatly in point. They need not remain for the Presidential election,
but may return to you at once. This is in no sense an order, but is
merely intended to impress you with the importance to the army itself of
your doing all you safely can, yourself being the judge of what you can
safely do.

"Yours truly,

"A. Lincoln." *

     * Unpublished MS.

The election resulted in an overwhelming victory for Lincoln. He
received a majority of over four hundred thousand in the popular vote--a
larger majority than had ever been received by any other President up to
that time. He carried not only Indiana, but all the New England
States, New York, Pennsylvania, all the Western States, West Virginia,
Tennessee, Louisiana, Arkansas, and the newly admitted State of Nevada.
McClellan carried but three states: New Jersey, Delaware, and
Kentucky. The result, as Grant so aptly expressed it in his telegram of
congratulation, was "a victory worth more to the country than a battle
won." A second time Lincoln stood in front of the great Capitol to take
the oath of office administered by his former rival, Salmon P. Chase,
whom he himself had appointed to succeed the deceased Roger B. Taney.
The problem of the war was now fast working its own solution. The cruel
stain of slavery had been effaced from the national escutcheon, and the
rosy morn of peace began to dawn behind the breaking clouds of the great

     * Bearing on the mission of the celebrated Peace Commission
     the following bit of inside history is not without interest:

     "I had given notice that at one o'clock on the 31st of
     January I would call a vote on the proposed constitutional
     amendment abolishing slavery in the United States. The
     opposition caught up a report that morning that Peace
     Commissioners were on the way to the city or were in the
     city. Had this been true I think the proposed amendment
     would have failed, as a number who voted for it could easily
     have been prevailed upon to vote against it on the ground
     that the passage of such a proposition would be offensive to
     the commissioners. Accordingly I wrote the President this

     "'House of Representatives,

     "'January 31, 1865.

     "'Dear Sir:

     "'The report is in circulation in the House that Peace
     Commissioners are on their way or in the city, and is being
     used against us. If it is true, I fear we shall lose the
     bill. Please authorize me to contradict it, if it is not


     "'J. M. Ashley.'

     To the President.

     Almost immediately came the reply, written on the back of my

     "'So far as I know there are no peace Commissioners in the
     city or likely to be in it. "'A. Lincoln.'

     January 31, 1865.

     "Mr. Lincoln knew that the commissioners were then on their
     way to Fortress Monroe, where he expected to meet them, and
     afterwards did meet them. You see how he answered my note
     for my purposes, and yet how truly. You know how he
     afterwards met the so-called commission, whom he determined
     at the time he wrote this note should not come to the city.
     One or two gentlemen were present when he wrote the note, to
     whom he read it before sending it to me."--J. M. Ashley, M.
     C., letter, November 23, 1866, MS.

Lincoln, firm but kind, in his inaugural address bade his misguided
brethren of the South come back. With a fraternal affection
characteristic of the man, and strictly in keeping with his former
utterances, he asked for the return of peace. "With malice towards none,
with charity for all," he implored his fellow-countrymen, "with firmness
in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we
are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have
borne the battle and for his widow and his orphans, to do all which may
achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with
all nations." With the coming of spring the great armies, awakening from
their long winter's sleep, began preparations for the closing campaign.
Sherman had already made that grandest march of modern times, from the
mountains of Tennessee through Georgia to the sea, while Grant, with
stolid indifference to public criticism and newspaper abuse, was
creeping steadily on through swamp and ravine to Richmond. Thomas
had defeated Hood in Tennessee, sending the latter back with his army
demoralized, cut in pieces, and ruined. The young and daring Sheridan
had driven Early out of the Shenandoah Valley after a series of
brilliant engagements. The "Kearsarge" had sunk the "Alabama" in
foreign waters. Farragut had captured Mobile, and the Union forces held
undisputed possession of the West and the Mississippi Valley from the
lakes to the gulf. Meanwhile Sherman, undaunted by the perils of a
further march through the enemy's country, returning from the sea,
was aiming for Richmond, where Grant, with bull-dog tenacity, held
Lee firmly in his grasp. Erelong, the latter, with his shattered army
reduced to half its original numbers, evacuated Richmond, with Grant in
close pursuit. A few days later the boys in blue overtook those in gray
at Appomattox Court-house, and there, under the warm rays of an April
sun, the life was at last squeezed out of the once proud but now
prostrate Confederacy. "The sun of peace had fairly risen. The incubus
of war that had pressed upon the nation's heart for four long, weary
years was lifted; and the nation sprang to its feet with all possible
demonstrations of joyous exultation."

Mr. Lincoln himself had gone to the scene of hostilities in Virginia. He
watched the various military manoeuvres and operations, which involved
momentous consequences to the country; he witnessed some of the bloody
engagements participated in by the army of the Potomac. Within a day
after its surrender he followed the victorious Union army into the
city of Richmond. In this unfortunate city--once the proud capital of
Virginia--now smoking and in ruins, he beheld the real horrors of grim
war. Here too he realized in a bountiful measure the earnest gratitude
of the colored people, who everywhere crowded around him and with cries
of intense exultation greeted him as their deliverer. He now returned to
Washington, not like Napoleon fleeing sorrowfully from Waterloo bearing
the tidings of his own defeat, but with joy proclaiming the era of Union
victory and peace among men. "The war was over. The great rebellion
which for four long years had been assailing the nation's life was
quelled. Richmond, the rebel capital, was taken; Lee's army had
surrendered; and the flag of the Union was floating in reassured
supremacy over the whole of the National domain. Friday, the 14th of
April, the anniversary of the surrender of Fort Sumter in 1861 by Major
Anderson to the rebel forces, had been designated by the Government as
the day on which the same officer should again raise the American
flag upon the fort in the presence of an assembled multitude, and with
ceremonies befitting so auspicious an occasion. The whole land rejoiced
at the return of peace and the prospect of renewed prosperity to the
country. President Lincoln shared this common joy, but with a deep
intensity of feeling which no other man in the whole land could ever
know. He saw the full fruition of the great work which had rested so
heavily on his hands and heart for four years past. He saw the great
task--as momentous as had ever fallen to the lot of man--which he had
approached with such unfeigned diffidence, nearly at an end. The agonies
of war had passed away; he had won the imperishable renown which is the
reward of those who save their country; and he could devote himself
now to the welcome task of healing the wounds which war had made, and
consolidating by a wise and magnanimous policy the severed sections of
our common Union. His heart was full of the generous sentiments which
these circumstances were so well calculated to inspire. He was cheerful
and hopeful of the success of his broad plans for the treatment of the
conquered people of the South. With all the warmth of his loving nature,
after the four years of storm through which he had been compelled to
pass, he viewed the peaceful sky on which the opening of his second
term had dawned. His mind was free from forebodings and filled only with
thoughts of kindness and of future peace." But alas for the vanity of
human confidence! The demon of assassination lurked near. In the midst
of the general rejoicing at the return of peace Mr. Lincoln was
stricken down by the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, in Ford's Theatre at
Washington. The story of his death, though oft repeated, is the saddest
and most impressive page in American history. I cannot well forbear
reproducing its painful and tragic details here.*

     * For the details of the assassination and the capture and
     subsequent history of the conspirators, I am indebted to
     Mrs. Gertrude Garrison, of New York, who has given the
     subject no little study and investigation. J. W. W.

[Illustration: Ford's Theatre 309]

"Mr. Lincoln for years had a presentiment that he would reach a
high place and then be stricken down in some tragic way. He took no
precautions to keep out of the way of danger. So many threats had been
made against him that his friends were alarmed, and frequently urged
him not to go out unattended. To all their entreaties he had the same
answer: 'If they kill me the next man will be just as bad for them. In
a country like this, where our habits are simple, and must be,
assassination is always possible, and will come if they are determined
upon it.'

"Whatever premonition of his tragic fate he may have had, there is
nothing to prove that he felt the nearness of the awful hour. Doomed
men rise and go about their daily duties as unoppressed, often, as those
whose paths know no shadow. On that never-to-be-forgotten 14th of April
President Lincoln passed the day in the usual manner. In the morning
his son, Captain Robert Lincoln, breakfasted with him. The young man had
just returned from the capitulation of Lee, and he described in detail
all the circumstances of that momentous episode of the close of the
war, to which the President listened with the closest interest. After
breakfast the President spent an hour with Speaker Colfax, talking
about his future policy, about to be submitted to his Cabinet. At eleven
o'clock he met the Cabinet. General Grant was present. He spent the
afternoon with Governor Oglesby, Senator Yates, and other friends
from Illinois. He was invited by the manager of Ford's theatre, in
Washington, to attend in the evening a performance of the play, 'Our
American Cousin,' with Laura Keene as the leading lady. This play, now
so well known to all play-goers, in which the late Southern afterward
made fortune and fame, was then comparatively unheralded. Lincoln was
fond of the drama. Brought up in a provincial way, in the days when
theatres were unknown outside of the larger cities, the beautiful art of
the actor was fresh and delightful to him.

"He loved Shakespeare, and never lost an opportunity of seeing his
characters rendered by the masters of dramatic art. But on that evening,
it is said, he was not eager to go. The play was new, consequently not
alluring to him; but he yielded to the wishes of Mrs. Lincoln and went.
They took with them Miss Harris and Major Rathbone, daughter and stepson
of Senator Harris, of New York.

"The theatre was crowded. At 9: 20 the President and his party entered.
The audience rose and cheered enthusiastically as they passed to the
'state box' reserved for them. Little did anyone present dream that
within the hour enthusiasm would give place to shrieks of horror. It
was ten o'clock when Booth came upon the scene to enact the last
and greatest tragedy of the war. He had planned carefully, but not
correctly. A good horse awaited him at the rear of the theatre, on which
he intended to ride into friendly shelter among the hills of Maryland.
He made his way to the President's box--a double one in the second tier,
at the left of the stage. The separating partition had been removed, and
both boxes thrown into one.

"Booth entered the theatre nonchalantly, glanced at the stage with
apparent interest, then slowly worked his way around into the outer
passage leading toward the box occupied by the President. At the end
of an inner passage leading to the box door, one of the President's
"messengers" was stationed to prevent unwelcome intrusions. Booth
presented a card to him, stating that Mr. Lincoln had sent for him, and
was permitted to pass. After gaining an entrance and closing the hall
door, he took a piece of board prepared for the occasion, and placed one
end of it in an indentation in the wall, about four feet from the floor,
and the other against the molding of the door panel a few inches higher,
making it impossible for any one to enter from without. The box had two
doors. He bored a gimlet hole in the panel of one, reaming it out with
his knife, so as to leave it a little larger than a buckshot on the
inside, while on the other side it was big enough to give his eye a wide
range. Both doors had spring locks. To secure against their being locked
he had loosened the screws with which the bolts were fastened.

"So deliberately had he planned that the very seats in the box had been
arranged to suit his purpose by an accomplice, one Spangler, an attaché
of the theatre. The President sat in the left-hand corner of the box,
nearest the audience, in an easy arm-chair. Next him, on the right, sat
Mrs. Lincoln. A little distance to the right of both, Miss Harris was
seated, with Major Rathbone at her left, and a little in the rear of
Mrs. Lincoln, who, intent on the play, was leaning forward, with one
hand resting on her husband's knee. The President was leaning upon one
hand, and with the other was toying with a portion of the drapery. His
face was partially turned to the audience, and wore a pleasant smile.

"The assassin swiftly entered the box through the door at the right, and
the next instant fired. The ball entered just behind the President's
left ear, and, though not producing instantaneous death, completely
obliterated all consciousness.

"Major Rathbone heard the report, and an instant later saw the murderer,
about six feet from the President, and grappled with him, but his
grasp was shaken off. Booth dropped his pistol and drew a long, thin,
deadly-looking knife, with which he wounded the major. Then, touching
his left hand to the railing of the box, he vaulted over to the stage,
eight or nine feet below. In that descent an unlooked-for and curious
thing happened, which foiled all the plans of the assassin and was the
means of bringing him to bay at last. Lincoln's box was draped with
the American flag, and Booth, in jumping, caught his spur in its folds,
tearing it down and spraining his ankle. He crouched as he fell, falling
upon one knee, but soon straightened himself and stalked theatrically
across the stage, brandishing his knife and shouting the State motto
of Virginia, '_Sic semper tyrannis!_' afterward adding, 'The South is
avenged!' He made his exit on the opposite side of the stage, passing
Miss Keene as he went out. A man named Stewart, a tall lawyer of
Washington, was the only person with presence of mind enough to spring
upon the stage and follow him, and he was too late.

"It had all been done so quickly and dramatically that many in the
audience were dazed, and could not understand that anything not a part
of the play had happened. When, at last, the awful truth was known
to them there ensued a scene, the like of which was never known in a
theatre before. Women shrieked, sobbed, and fainted. Men cursed and
raved, or were dumb with horror and amazement. Miss Keene stepped to the
front and begged the frightened and dismayed audience to be calm. Then
she entered the President's box with water and stimulants. Medical
aid was summoned and came with flying feet, but came too late. The
murderer's bullet had done its wicked work well. The President
hardly stirred in his chair, and never spoke or showed any signs of
consciousness again.

[Illustration: The Peterson House 316]

"They carried him immediately to the house of Mr. Petersen, opposite
the theatre, and there, at 7:22 the next morning, the 15th of April, he

"The night of Lincoln's assassination was a memorable one in Washington.
Secretary Seward was attacked and wounded while lying in bed with a
broken arm.

"The murder of the President put the authorities on their guard against
a wide-reaching conspiracy, and threw the public into a state of terror.
The awful event was felt even by those who knew not of it. Horsemen
clattered through the silent streets of Washington, spreading the sad
tidings, and the telegraph wires carried the terrible story everywhere.
The nation awakened from its dream of peace on the 15th of April, 1865,
to learn that its protector, leader, friend, and restorer had been laid
low by a stage-mad 'avenger.' W. O. Stoddard, in his 'Life of Lincoln,'
says: 'It was as if there had been a death in every house throughout
the land. By both North and South alike the awful news was received with
a shudder and a momentary spasm of unbelief. Then followed one of the
most remarkable spectacles in the history of the human race, for there
is nothing else at all like it on record. Bells had tolled before at the
death of a loved ruler, but never did all bells toll so mournfully as
they did that day. Business ceased. Men came together in public meetings
as if by a common impulse, and party lines and sectional hatreds seemed
to be obliterated.

"The assassination took place on Friday evening, and on the following
Sunday funeral services were held in all the churches in the land, and
every church was draped in mourning."

The death of Mr. Lincoln was an indescribable shock to his fellow
countrymen. The exultation of victory over the final and successful
triumph of Union arms was suddenly changed to the lamentations of grief.
In every household throughout the length and breadth of the land there
was a dull and bitter agony as the telegraph bore tidings of the awful
deed. The public heart, filled with joy over the news from Appomattox,
now sank low with a sacred terror as the sad tidings from the Capitol
came in. In the great cities of the land all business instantly ceased.
Flags drooped half-mast from every winged messenger of the sea, from
every church spire, and from every public building. Thousands upon
thousands, drawn by a common feeling, crowded around every place of
public resort and listened eagerly to whatever any public speaker
chose to say. Men met in the streets and pressed each other's hands in
silence, and burst into tears. The whole nation, which the previous day
had been jubilant and hopeful, was precipitated into the depths of a
profound and tender woe. It was a memorable spectacle to the world--a
whole nation plunged into heartfelt grief and the deepest sorrow.

The body of the dead President, having been embalmed, was removed from
the house in which the death occurred to the White House, and there
appropriate funeral services were held. After the transfer of the
remains to the Capitol, where the body was exposed to view in the
Rotunda for a day, preparations were made for the journey to the home
of the deceased in Illinois. On the following day (April 21) the funeral
train left Washington amid the silent grief of the thousands who had
gathered to witness its departure. At all the great cities along the
route stops were made, and an opportunity was given the people to look
on the face of the illustrious dead. The passage of this funeral
train westward through country, village, and city, winding across the
territory of vast States, along a track of more than fifteen hundred
miles, was a pageant without a parallel in the history of the continent
or the world. At every halt in the sombre march vast crowds, such as
never before had collected together, filed past the catafalque for a
glimpse of the dead chieftain's face. Farmers left their farms, workmen
left their shops, societies and soldiers marched in solid columns, and
the great cities poured forth their population in countless masses. From
Washington the funeral train moved to Baltimore, thence to Harrisburg,
Philadelphia, New York, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus,
Indianapolis, Chicago, and at last to Springfield.

As the funeral cortège passed through New York it was reverently gazed
upon by a mass of humanity impossible to enumerate. No ovation could
be so eloquent as the spectacle of the vast population, hushed and
bareheaded under the bright spring sky, gazing upon his coffin.
Lincoln's own words over the dead at Gettysburg came to many as the
stately car went by: "The world will little note nor long remember what
we say here, but it can never forget what they did here."

It was remembered, too, that on the 22d of February, 1861, as he raised
the American flag over Independence Hall, in Philadelphia, he spoke of
the sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave liberty
not only to this country, but, "I hope," he said, "to the world for all
future time. But if this country cannot be saved without giving up that
principle, I was about to say I would rather be assassinated upon this
spot than surrender it." When he died the veil that hid his greatness
was torn aside, and the country then knew what it had possessed and
lost in him. A New York paper, of April 29, 1865, said: "No one who
personally knew him but will now feel that the deep, furrowed sadness
of his face seemed to forecast his fate. The genial gentleness of his
manner, his homely simplicity, the cheerful humor that never failed, are
now seen to have been but the tender light that played around the rugged
heights of his strong and noble nature. It is small consolation that
he died at the moment of the war when he could best be spared, for no
nation is ever ready for the loss of such a friend. But it is something
to remember that he lived to see the slow day breaking. Like Moses, he
had marched with us through the wilderness. From the height of patriotic
vision he beheld the golden fields of the future waving in peace and
plenty. He beheld, and blessed God, but was not to enter in."

In a discourse delivered on Lincoln on the 23d of that month, Henry Ward
Beecher said:

"And now the martyr is moving in triumphal march, mightier than when
alive. The nation rises up at every stage of his coming. Cities and
states are his pall-bearers, and the cannon speaks the hours with solemn
progression. Dead, dead, dead, he yet speaketh. Is Washington dead? Is
Hampden dead? Is any man that was ever fit to live dead? Disenthralled
of flesh, risen to the unobstructed sphere where passion never comes, he
begins his illimitable work. His life is now grafted upon the infinite,
and will be fruitful as no earthly life can be. Pass on, thou that
hast overcome. Ye people, behold the martyr whose blood, as so many
articulate words, pleads for fidelity, for law, for liberty."

The funeral train reached Springfield on the 3d of May. The casket was
borne to the State House and placed in Representative Hall--the very
chamber in which in 1854 the deceased had pronounced that fearful
invective against the sin of human slavery. The doors were thrown open,
the coffin lid was removed, and we who had known the illustrious dead
in other days, and before the nation lay its claim upon him, moved sadly
through and looked for the last time on the silent, upturned face of our
departed friend. All day long and through the night a stream of people
filed reverently by the catafalque. Some of them were his colleagues
at the bar; some his old friends from New Salem; some crippled soldiers
fresh from the battle-fields of the war; and some were little children
who, scarce realizing the impressiveness of the scene, were destined to
live and tell their children yet to be born the sad story of Lincoln's

At ten o'clock in the morning of the second day, as a choir of
two-hundred-and-fifty voices sang "Peace, Troubled Soul," the lid of the
casket was shut down forever. The remains were borne outside and placed
in a hearse, which moved at the head of a procession in charge of
General Joseph Hooker to Oak Ridge cemetery. There Bishop Matthew
Simpson delivered an eloquent and impressive funeral oration, and Rev.
Dr. Gurley, of Washington, offered up the closing prayer. While the
choir chanted "Unveil Thy Bosom, Faithful Tomb," the vault door opened
and received to its final rest all that was mortal of Abraham Lincoln.

"It was soon known that the murder of Lincoln was one result of a
conspiracy which had for its victims Secretary Seward and probably
Vice-President Johnson, Secretary Stanton, General Grant, and perhaps
others. Booth had left a card for Mr. Johnson the day before, possibly
with the intention of killing him. Mr. Seward received wounds, from
which he soon recovered. Grant, who was to have accompanied Lincoln to
the theatre on the night of the assassination, and did not, escaped
unassailed. The general conspiracy was poorly planned and lamely
executed. It involved about twenty-five persons. Mrs. Surratt, David C.
Harold, Lewis Payne, Edward Spangler, Michael O'Loughlin, J. W.
Atzerodt, Samuel Arnold, and Dr. Samuel Mudd, who set Booth's leg, which
was dislocated by the fall from the stage-box, were among the number
captured and tried.

"After the assassination Booth escaped unmolested from the theatre,
mounted his horse, and rode away, accompanied by Harold, into Maryland.
Cavalrymen scoured the country, and eleven days after the shooting
discovered them in a barn on Garrett's farm, near Port Royal on the
Rappahannock. The soldiers surrounded the barn and demanded a surrender.
After the second demand Harold surrendered, under a shower of curses
from Booth, but Booth refused, declaring that he would never be taken
alive. The captain of the squad then fired the barn. A correspondent
thus describes the scene:

"'The blaze lit up the recesses of the great barn till every wasp's nest
and cobweb in the roof were luminous, flinging streaks of red and violet
across the tumbled farm gear in the corner. They tinged the beams, the
upright columns, the barricades, where clover and timothy piled high
held toward the hot incendiary their separate straws for the funeral
pile. They bathed the murderer's retreat in a beautiful illumination,
and, while in bold outlines his figure stood revealed, they rose like
an impenetrable wall to guard from sight the hated enemy who lit them.
Behind the blaze, with his eye to a crack, Colonel Conger saw Wilkes
Booth standing upright upon a crutch. At the gleam of fire Booth dropped
his crutch and carbine, and on both hands crept up to the spot to espy
the incendiary and shoot him dead. His eyes were lustrous with fever,
and swelled and rolled in terrible beauty, while his teeth were fixed,
and he wore the expression of one in the calmness before frenzy. In vain
he peered, with vengeance in his look; the blaze that made him visible
concealed his enemy. A second he turned glaring at the fire, as if to
leap upon it and extinguish it, but it had made such headway that he
dismissed the thought. As calmly as upon the battle-field a veteran
stands amidst the hail of ball and shell and plunging iron, Booth turned
and pushed for the door, carbine in poise, and the last resolve of
death, which we name despair, set on his high, bloodless forehead.

"'Just then Sergeant Boston Corbett fired through a crevice and shot
Booth in the neck. He was carried out of the barn and laid upon the
grass, and there died about four hours afterward. Before his misguided
soul passed into the silence of death he whispered something which
Lieutenant Baker bent down to hear. "Tell mother I die for my country,"
he said, faintly. Reviving a moment later he re peated the words, and
added, "I thought I did for the best."

"His days of hiding and fleeing from his pursuers had left him pale,
haggard, dirty, and unkempt. He had cut off his mustache and cropped his
hair close to his head, and he and Harold both wore the Confederate gray

"Booth's body was taken to Washington, and a post mortem examination of
it held on board the monitor "Montauk," and on the night of the 27th
of April it was given in charge of two men in a rowboat, who, it is
claimed, disposed of it in secrecy--how, none but themselves know.
Numerous stories have been told of the final resting-place of that hated
dead man. Whoever knows the truth of it tells it not.

"Sergeant Corbett, who shot Booth, fired without orders. The last
instructions given by Colonel Baker to Colonel Conger and Lieutenant
Baker were: 'Don't shoot Booth, but take him alive.' Corbett was
something of a fanatic, and for a breach of discipline had once been
court-martialled and sentenced to be shot. The order, however, was not
executed, but he had been drummed out of the regiment. He belonged to
Company L of the Sixteenth New York Cavalry. He was English by birth,
but was brought up in this country, and learned the trade of hat
finisher. While living in Boston he Joined the Methodist Episcopal
Church. Never having been baptized, he was at a loss to know what name
to adopt, but after making it a subject of prayer he took the name
of Boston, in honor of the place of his conversion. He was ever
undisciplined and erratic. He is said to be living in Kansas, and draws
a pension from the Government.

"Five of the conspirators were tried, and four, Payne, Harold, Atzerodt
and Mrs. Surratt, were hanged. Dr. Mudd was sent to the Dry Tortugas for
a period of years, and there did such good work among the yellow-fever
sufferers during an epidemic that he was pardoned and returned to this
country. He died only about two years ago at his home in Maryland, near
Washington. John Surratt fled to Italy, and there entered the Papal
guards. He was discovered by Archbishop Hughes, and by the courtesy of
the Italian government, though the extradition laws did not cover his
case, was delivered over to the United States for trial. At his first
trial the jury hung; at the second, in which Edwards Pierrepont was
the Government counsel, Surratt got off on the plea of limitations. He
undertook to lecture, and began at Rockville, Md. The Evening Star, of
Washington, reported the lecture, which was widely copied, and was of
such a feeble character that it killed him as a lecturer. He went
to Baltimore, where, it is said, he still lives. Spangler, the
scene-shifter, who was an accomplice of Booth, was sent to the Dry
Tortugas, served out his term and died about ten years ago. McLoughlin,
who was arrested because of his acquaintance with the conspirators, was
sent to the Dry Tortugas and there died.

"Ford's Theatre was never played in after that memorable night. Ten
or twelve days after the assassination Ford attempted to open it,
but Stanton prevented it, and the Government bought the theatre for
$100,000, and converted it into a medical museum. Ford was a Southern
sympathizer. He ran two theatres until four years ago, one in Washington
and one in Baltimore. Alison Naylor, the livery man who let Booth have
his horse, still lives in Washington. Major Rathbone, who was in the box
with Lincoln when he was shot, died within the last four years. Stewart,
the man who jumped on the stage to follow Booth, and announced to the
audience that he had escaped through the alley, died lately. Strange,
but very few persons can now be found who were at the theatre that
night. Laura Keene died a few years ago.

Booth the assassin was the third son of the eminent English tragedian
Junius Brutus Booth, and the brother of the equally renowned Edwin
Booth. He was only twenty-six years old when he figured as the chief
actor in this horrible drama. He began his dramatic career as John
Wilkes, and as a stock actor gained a fair reputation, but had not
achieved any special success. He had played chiefly in the South
and West, and but a few times in New York. Some time before the
assassination of Lincoln he had abandoned his profession on account of a
bronchial affection. Those who knew him and saw him on that fatal Friday
say that he was restless, like one who, consciously or unconsciously,
was overshadowed by some awful fate.

He knew that the President and his party intended to be present at
Ford's theatre in the evening, and he asked an acquaintance if he should
attend the performance, remarking that if he did he would see some
unusually fine acting. He was a handsome man. His eyes were large and
dark, his hair dark and inclined to curl, his features finely moulded,
his form tall, and his address pleasing.

Frederick Stone, counsel for Harold after Booth's death, is authority
for the statement that the occasion for Lincoln's assassination was
the sentiment expressed by the President in a speech delivered from the
steps of the White House on the night of April 11, when he said: "If
universal amnesty is granted to the insurgents I cannot see how I can
avoid exacting in return universal suffrage, or at least suffrage on the
basis of intelligence and military service." Booth was standing
before Mr. Lincoln on the outskirts of the crowd. "That means nigger
citizenship," he said to Harold by his side. "Now, by God! I'll put
him through." But whatever may have been the incentive, Booth seemed to
crave the reprehensible fame that attaches to a bold and dramatically
wicked deed. He may, it is true, have been mentally unhinged, but,
whether sane or senseless, he made for himself an infamous and endless
notoriety when he murdered the patient, forbearing man who had
directed our ship of state through the most tempestuous waters it ever

In the death of Lincoln the South, prostrate and bleeding, lost a
friend; and his unholy taking-off at the very hour of the assured
supremacy of the Union cause ran the iron into the heart of the North.
His sun went down suddenly, and whelmed the country in a darkness which
was felt by every heart; but far up the clouds sprang apart, and soon
the golden light, flooding the heavens with radiance, illuminated every
uncovered brow with the hope of a fair to-morrow. His name will ever be
the watchword of liberty. His work is finished, and sealed forever with
the veneration given to the blood of martyrs. Yesterday a man reviled
and abused, a target for the shafts of malice and hatred: to-day an
apostle. Yesterday a power: to-day a prestige, sacred, irresistible. The
life and the tragic death of Mr. Lincoln mark an epoch in history from
which dates the unqualified annunciation by the American people of the
greatest truth in the bible of republicanism--the very keystone of that
arch of human rights which is destined to overshadow and remodel every
government upon the earth. The glorious brightness of that upper world,
as it welcomed his faint and bleeding spirit, broke through upon the
earth at his exit--it was the dawn of a day growing brighter as the
grand army of freedom follows in the march of time.

Lincoln's place in history will be fixed--aside from his personal
characteristics--by the events and results of the war. As a great
political leader who quelled a rebellion of eight millions of people,
liberated four millions of slaves, and demonstrated to the world
the ability of the people to maintain a government of themselves, by
themselves, for themselves, he will assuredly occupy no insignificant

To accomplish the great work of preserving the Union cost the land
a great price. Generations of Americans yet unborn, and humanity
everywhere, for years to come will mourn the horrors and sacrifices of
the first civil war in the United States; but above the blood of its
victims, above the bones of its dead, above the ashes of desolate
hearths, will arise the colossal figure of Abraham Lincoln as the most
acceptable sacrifice offered by the nineteenth century in expiation of
the great crime of the seventeenth. Above all the anguish and tears of
that immense hecatomb will appear the shade of Lincoln as the symbol of
hope and of pardon.

This is the true lesson of Lincoln's life: real and enduring greatness,
that will survive the corrosion and abrasion of time, of change, and
of progress, must rest upon character. In certain brilliant and what
is understood to be most desirable endowments how many Americans have
surpassed him. Yet how he looms above them all! Not eloquence, nor
logic, nor grasp of thought; not statesmanship, nor power of command,
nor courage; not any nor all of these have made him what he is, but
these, in the degree in which he possessed them, conjoined to those
qualities comprised in the term character, have given him his fame--have
made him for all time to come the great American, the grand, central
figure in American--perhaps the world's--history.


     The substance of this chapter I delivered in the form of a
     lecture to a Springfield audience in 1866. W. H. H.

SOON after the death of Mr. Lincoln Dr. J. G. Holland came out to
Illinois from his home in Massachusetts to gather up materials for a
life of the dead President. The gentleman spent several days with me,
and I gave him all the assistance that lay in my power. I was much
pleased with him, and awaited with not a little interest the appearance
of his book. I felt sure that even after my long and intimate
acquaintance with Mr. Lincoln I never fully knew and understood him,
and I therefore wondered what sort of a description Dr. Holland, after
interviewing Lincoln's old-time friends, would make of his individual
characteristics. When the book appeared he said this: "The writer
has conversed with multitudes of men who claimed to know Mr. Lincoln
intimately: yet there are not two of the whole number who agree in their
estimate of him. The fact was that he rarely showed more than one aspect
of himself to one man. He opened himself to men in different directions.
To illustrate the effect of the peculiarity of Mr. Lincoln's intercourse
with men it may be said that men who knew him through all his
professional and political life offered opinions as diametrically
opposite to these, viz.: that he was a very ambitious man, and that he
was without a particle of ambition; that he was one of the saddest
men that ever lived, and that he was one of the jolliest men that ever
lived; that he was very religious, but that he was not a Christian; that
he was a Christian, but did not know it; that he was so far from being
a religious man or a Christian that 'the less said upon that subject the
better;' that he was the most cunning man in America, and that he had
not a particle of cunning in him; that he had the strongest personal
attachments, and that he had no personal attachments at all--only a
general good feeling towards everybody; that he was a man of indomitable
will, and that he was a man almost without a will; that he was a tyrant,
and that he was the softest-hearted, most brotherly man that ever lived;
that he was remarkable for his pure-mindedness, and that he was the
foulest in his jests and stories of any man in the country; that he was
a witty man, and that he was only a retailer of the wit of others; that
his apparent candor and fairness were only apparent, and that they were
as real as his head and his hands; that he was a boor, and that he was
in all respects a gentleman; that he was a leader of the people, and
that he was always led by the people; that he was cool and impassive,
and that he was susceptible of the strongest passions. It is only by
tracing these separate streams of impression back to their fountain that
we are able to arrive at anything like a competent comprehension of the
man, or to learn why he came to be held in such various estimation. Men
caught only separate aspects of his character--only the fragments that
were called into exhibition by their own qualities."

Dr. Holland had only found what Lincoln's friends had always experienced
in their relations with him--that he was a man of many moods and many
sides. He never revealed himself entirely to any one man, and therefore
he will always to a certain extent remain enveloped in doubt. Even those
who were with him through long years of hard study and under constantly
varying circumstances can hardly say they knew him through and through.
I always believed I could read him as thoroughly as any man, and yet he
was so different in many respects from any other one I ever met before
or since his time that I cannot say I comprehended him. In this chapter
I give my recollection of his individual characteristics as they occur
to me, and allow the world to form its own opinion. If my recollection
of the man destroys any other person's ideal, I cannot help it. By a
faithful and lifelike description of Lincoln the man, and a study of
his peculiar and personal traits, perhaps some of the apparent
contradictions met with by Dr. Holland will have melted from sight.

Mr. Lincoln was six feet four inches high, and when he left the city of
his home for Washington was fifty-one years old, having good health
and no gray hairs, or but few, on his head. He was thin, wiry, sinewy,
raw-boned; thin through the breast to the back, and narrow across
the shoulders; standing he leaned forward--was what may be called
stoop-shouldered, inclining to the consumptive by build. His usual
weight was one hundred and eighty pounds. His organization--rather his
structure and functions--worked slowly.

His blood had to run a long distance from his heart to the extremities
of his frame, and his nerve force had to travel through dry ground
a long distance before his muscles were obedient to his will. His
structure was loose and leathery; his body was shrunk and shrivelled; he
had dark skin, dark hair, and looked woe-struck. The whole man, body and
mind, worked slowly, as if it needed oiling. Physically he was a very
powerful man, lifting with ease four hundred, and in one case six
hundred, pounds. His mind was like his body, and worked slowly but
strongly. Hence there was very little bodily or mental wear and tear in
him. This peculiarity in his construction gave him great advantage
over other men in public life. No man in America--scarcely a man in
the world--could have stood what Lincoln did in Washington and survived
through more than one term of the Presidency.

When he walked he moved cautiously but firmly; his long arms and giant
hands swung down by his side. He walked with even tread, the inner
sides of his feet being parallel. He put the whole foot flat down on the
ground at once, not landing on the heel; he likewise lifted his foot
all at once, not rising from the toe, and hence he had no spring to his
walk. His walk was undulatory--catching and pocketing tire, weariness,
and pain, all up and down his person, and thus preventing them from
locating. The first impression of a stranger, or a man who did not
observe closely, was that his walk implied shrewdness and cunning--that
he was a tricky man; but, in reality, it was the walk of caution and
firmness. In sitting down on a common chair he was no taller than
ordinary men. His legs and arms were abnormally, unnaturally long, and
in undue proportion to the remainder of his body. It was only when he
stood up that he loomed above other men.

Mr. Lincoln's head was long, and tall from the base of the brain and
from the eyebrows. His head ran backwards, his forehead rising as it ran
back at a low angle, like Clay's, and unlike Webster's, which was almost
perpendicular. The size of his hat measured at the hatter's block was
seven and one-eighth, his head being, from ear to ear, six and one-half
inches, and from the front to the back of the brain eight inches. Thus
measured it was not below the medium size. His forehead was narrow
but high; his hair was dark, almost black, and lay floating where his
fingers or the winds left it, piled up at random. His cheek-bones were
high, sharp, and prominent; his jaws were long and up-curved; his nose
was large, long, blunt, and a little awry towards the right eye; his
chin was sharp and upcurved; his eyebrows cropped out like a huge rock
on the brow of a hill; his long, sallow face was wrinkled and dry, with
a hair here and there on the surface; his cheeks were leathery; his ears
were large, and ran out almost at right angles from his head, caused
partly by heavy hats and partly by nature; his lower lip was thick,
hanging, and undercurved, while his chin reached for the lip upcurved;
his neck was neat and trim, his head being well balanced on it; there
was the lone mole on the right cheek, and Adam's apple on his throat.

Thus stood, walked, acted, and looked Abraham Lincoln. He was not a
pretty man by any means, nor was he an ugly one; he was a homely man,
careless of his looks, plain-looking and plain-acting. He had no pomp,
display, or dignity, so-called. He appeared simple in his carriage and
bearing. He was a sad-looking man; his melancholy dripped from him as he
walked. His apparent gloom impressed his friends,* and created sympathy
for him--one means of his great success.

     * Lincoln's melancholy never failed to impress any man who
     ever saw or knew him. The perpetual look of sadness was his
     most prominent feature. The cause of this peculiar condition
     was a matter of frequent discussion among his friends. John
     T. Stuart said it was due to his abnormal digestion. His
     liver failed to work properly--did not secrete bile--and his
     bowels were equally as inactive. "I used to advise him to
     take blue-mass pills," related Stuart, "and he did take them
     before he went to Washington, and for five months while he
     was President, but when I came on to Congress he told me he
     had ceased, using them because they made him cross." The
     reader can hardly realize the extent of this peculiar
     tendency to gloom. One of Lincoln's colleagues in the
     Legislature of Illinois is authority for the statement
     coming from Lincoln himself that this "mental depression
     became so intense at times he never dared carry a pocket
     knife." Two things greatly intensified his characteristic
     sadness: one was the endless succession of troubles in his
     domestic life, which he had to bear in silence; and the
     other was unquestionably the knowledge of his own obscure
     and lowly origin. The recollection of these things burned a
     deep impress on his sensitive soul.

     As to the cause of this morbid condition my idea has always
     been that it was occult, and could not be explained by any
     course of observation and reasoning. It was ingrained, and,
     being ingrained, could not be reduced to rule, or the cause
     arrayed. It was necessarily hereditary, but whether it came
     down from a long line of ancestors and far back, or was
     simply the reproduction of the saddened life of Nancy Hanks,
     cannot well be determined. At any rate it was part of his
     nature, and could no more be shaken off than he could part
     with his brains.

He was gloomy, abstracted, and joyous--rather humorous--by turns; but I
do not think he knew what real joy was for many years.

Mr. Lincoln sometimes walked our streets cheerily, he was not always
gloomy, and then it was that on meeting a friend he greeted him with
plain "Howd'y?" clasping his hand in both of his own, and gave him a
hearty soul-welcome. On a winter's morning he might be seen stalking
towards the market-house, basket on arm, his old gray shawl wrapped
around his neck, his little boy Willie or Tad running along at his
heels asking a thousand boyish questions, which his father, in deep
abstraction, neither heeded nor heard.*

     * "I lived next door to the Lincolns for many years, knew
     the family well. Mr. Lincoln used to come to our house, his
     feet encased in a pair of loose slippers, and with an old,
     faded pair of trousers fastened with one suspender. He
     frequently came to our house for milk. Our rooms were low,
     and he said one day,'Jim, you'll have to lift your loft a
     little higher; I can't straighten out under it very well.'
     To my wife, who was short of stature, he used to say that
     little people had some advantages: they required less 'wood
     and wool to make them comfortable.' In his yard Lincoln had
     but little shrubbery. He once planted some rose bushes, to
     which he called my attention, but soon neglected them
     altogether. He never planted any vines or fruit trees,
     seemed to have no fondness for such things. At one time,
     yielding to my suggestion, he undertook to keep a garden in
     the rear part of his yard, but one season's experience
     sufficed to cure him of all desire for another. He kept his
     own horse, fed and curried it when at home; he also fed and
     milked his own cow, and sawed his own wood. Mr. Lincoln and
     his wife agreed moderately well. Frequently Mrs. Lincoln's
     temper would get the better of her. If she became furious,
     as she often did, her husband tried to pay no attention to
     her. He would sometimes laugh at her, but generally he would
     pick up one of the children and walk off. I have heard her
     say that if Mr. Lincoln had remained at home more she could
     have loved him better. One day while Mr. Lincoln was absent--
     he had gone to Chicago to try a suit in the United States
     Court--his wife and I formed a conspiracy to take off the
     roof and raise his house. It was originally a frame
     structure one story and a half high. When Lincoln returned
     he met a gentleman on the sidewalk and, looking at his own
     house and manifesting great surprise, inquired: 'Stranger,
     can you tell me where Lincoln lives?' The gentleman gave him
     the necessary information, and Lincoln gravely entered his
     own premises."--Statement, James Gourly, February 9, 1866.

If a friend met or passed him, and he awoke from his reverie, something
would remind him of a story he had heard in Indiana, and tell it he
would, and there was no alternative but to listen.

Thus, I repeat, stood and walked and talked this singular man. He was
odd, but when that gray eye and that face and those features were lit
up by the inward soul in fires of emotion, then it was that all those
apparently ugly features sprang into organs of beauty or disappeared
in the sea of inspiration that often flooded his face. Sometimes it
appeared as if Lincoln's soul was fresh from its Creator.

I have asked the friends and foes of Mr. Lincoln alike what they thought
of his perceptions. One gentleman of unquestioned ability and free from
all partiality or prejudice said, "Mr. Lincoln's perceptions were slow,
a little perverted, if not somewhat distorted and diseased." If the
meaning of this is that Mr. Lincoln saw things from a peculiar angle of
his being, and from this was susceptible to nature's impulses, and that
he so expressed himself, then I have no objection to what is said.

Otherwise I dissent. Mr. Lincoln's perceptions were slow, cold, clear,
and exact. Everything came to him in its precise shape and color. To
some men the world of matter and of man comes ornamented with beauty,
life, and action; and hence more or less false and inexact. No lurking
illusion or other error, false in itself and clad for the moment in
robes of splendor, ever passed undetected or unchallenged over the
threshold of his mind--that point which divides vision from the
realm and home of thought. Names to him were nothing, and titles
naught--assumption always standing back abashed at his cold,
intellectual glare. Neither his perceptions nor intellectual vision were
perverted, distorted, or diseased. He saw all things through a perfect
mental lens. There was no diffraction or refraction there. He was not
impulsive, fanciful, or imaginative; but cold, calm, and precise. He
threw his whole mental light around the object, and, after a time,
substance and quality stood apart, form and color took their appropriate
places, and all was clear and exact in his mind. His fault, if any, was
that he saw things less than they really were; less beautiful and more
frigid. He crushed the unreal, the inexact, the hollow, and the sham. He
saw things in rigidity rather than in vital action. He saw what no man
could dispute, but he failed to see what might have been seen.

To some minds the world is all life, a soul beneath the material; but to
Mr. Lincoln no life was individual that did not manifest itself to him.
His mind was his standard. His mental action was deliberate, and he
was pitiless and persistent in pursuit of the truth. No error went
undetected, no falsehood unexposed, if he once was aroused in search of
the truth. The true peculiarity of Mr. Lincoln has not been seen by his
various biographers; or, if seen, they have failed wofully to give it
that importance which it deserves. Newton beheld the law of the universe
in the fall of an apple from a tree to the ground; Owen saw the
animal in its claw; Spencer saw evolution in the growth of a seed;
and Shakespeare saw human nature in the laugh of a man. Nature was
suggestive to all these men. Mr. Lincoln no less saw philosophy in
a story and an object lesson in a joke. His was a new and original
position, one which was always suggesting something to him. The world
and man, principles and facts, all were full of suggestions to his
susceptible soul. They continually put him in mind of something. His
ideas were odd and original for the reason that he was a peculiar and
original creation himself.

His power in the association of ideas was as great as his memory was
tenacious and strong. His language indicated oddity and originality
of vision as well as expression. Words and language are but the
counterparts of the idea--the other half of the idea; they are but the
stinging, hot, leaden bullets that drop from the mould; in a rifle, with
powder stuffed behind them and fire applied, they are an embodied force
resistlessly pursuing their object. In the search for words Mr. Lincoln
was often at a loss. He was often perplexed to give proper expression to
his ideas; first, because he was not master of the English language; and
secondly, because there were, in the vast store of words, so few that
contained the exact coloring, power, and shape of his ideas. This will
account for the frequent resort by him to the use of stories, maxims,
and jokes in which to clothe his ideas, that they might be comprehended.
So true was this peculiar mental vision of his that, though mankind has
been gathering, arranging, and classifying facts for thousands of years,
Lincoln's peculiar standpoint could give him no advantage over other
men's labor. Hence he tore down to their deepest foundations all
arrangements of facts, and constructed new ones to govern himself. He
was compelled from his peculiar mental organization to do this. His
labor was great and continuous.

The truth about Mr. Lincoln is that he read less and thought more than
any man in his sphere in America. No man can put his finger on any great
book written in the last or present century that he read thoroughly.
When young he read the Bible, and when of age he read Shakespeare; but,
though he often quoted from both, he never read either one through. He
is acknowledged now to have been a great man, but the question is what
made him great. I repeat, that he read less and thought more than
any man of his standing in America, if not in the world. He possessed
originality and power of thought in an eminent degree. Besides his well
established reputation for caution, he was concentrated in his thoughts
and had great continuity of reflection. In everything he was patient and
enduring. These are some of the grounds of his wonderful success.

Not only were nature, man, and principle suggestive to Mr. Lincoln, not
only had he accurate and exact perceptions, but he was causative; his
mind, apparently with an automatic movement, ran back behind facts,
principles, and all things to their origin and first cause--to that
point where forces act at once as effect and cause. He would stop in the
street and analyze a machine. He would whittle a thing to a point, and
then count the numberless inclined planes and their pitch making the
point. Mastering and defining this, he would then cut that point back
and get a broad transverse section of his pine-stick, and peel and
define that. Clocks, omnibuses, language, paddle-wheels, and idioms
never escaped his observation and analysis. Before he could form an idea
of anything, before he would express his opinion on a subject, he must
know its origin and history in substance and quality, in magnitude and
gravity. He must know it inside and outside, upside and downside. He
searched and comprehended his own mind and nature thoroughly, as I have
often heard him say. He must analyze a sensation, an idea, and run back
in its history to its origin, and purpose. He was remorseless in his
analysis of facts and principles. When all these exhaustive processes
had been gone through with he could form an idea and express it; but no
sooner. He had no faith, and no respect for "say so's," come though they
might from tradition or authority. Thus everything had to run through
the crucible, and be tested by the fires of his analytic mind; and when
at last he did speak, his utterances rang out with the clear and
keen ring of gold upon the counters of the understanding. He reasoned
logically through analogy and comparison. All opponents dreaded
his originality of idea, his condensation, definition, and force of
expression; and woe be to the man who hugged to his bosom a secret error
if Lincoln got on the chase of it. I repeat, woe to him! Time could hide
the error in no nook or corner of space in which he would not detect and
expose it.

Though gifted with accurate and acute perception, though a profound
thinker as well as analyzer, still Lincoln's judgment on many and minor
matters was oftentimes childish. By the word judgment I do not mean
what mental philosophers would call the exercise of reason,
will--understanding; but I use the term in its popular sense. I refer to
that capacity or power which decides on the fitness, the harmony, or,
if you will, the beauty and appropriateness of things. I have always
thought, and sometimes said, Lincoln lacked this quality in his mental
structure. He was on the alert if a principle was involved or a man's
rights at stake in a transaction; but he never could see the harm in
wearing a sack-coat instead of a swallowtail to an evening party, nor
could he realize the offense of telling a vulgar yarn if a preacher
happened to be present.*

     * Sometime in 1857 a lady reader or elocutionist came to
     Springfield and gave a public reading in a hall immediately
     north of the State House. As lady lecturers were then rare
     birds, a very large crowd greeted her. Among other things
     she recited "Nothing to Wear," a piece in which is described
     the perplexities that beset "Miss Flora McFlimsey" in her
     efforts to appear fashionable. In the midst of one stanza,
     in which no effort is made to say anything particularly
     amusing, and during the reading of which the audience
     manifested the most respectful silence and attention, some
     one in the rear seats burst out into a loud, coarse laugh--a
     sudden and explosive guffaw. It startled the speaker and
     audience, and kindled a storm of unsuppressed laughter and
     applause. Everyone looked back to ascertain the cause of the
     demonstration, and was greatly surprised to find that it was
     Mr. Lincoln. He blushed and squirmed with the awkward
     diffidence of a schoolboy. What prompted him to laugh no one
     was able to explain. He was doubtless wrapped up in a brown
     study, and, recalling some amusing episode, indulged in
     laughter without realizing his surroundings. The experience
     mortified him greatly.

As already expressed, Mr. Lincoln had no faith. In order to believe, he
must see and feel, and thrust his hand into the place. He must taste,
smell, and handle before he had faith or even belief. Such a mind
manifestly must have its time. His forte and power lay in digging out
for himself and securing for his mind its own food, to be assimilated
unto itself. Thus, in time he would form opinions and conclusions that
no human power could overthrow. They were as irresistible as the rush
of a flood; as convincing as logic embodied in mathematics. And yet the
question arises: "Had Mr. Lincoln great, good common-sense?" A variety
of opinions suggest themselves in answer to this. If the true test
is that a man shall judge the rush and whirl of human actions and
transactions as wisely and accurately as though indefinite time and
proper conditions were at his disposal, then I am compelled to
follow the logic of things and admit that he had no great stock of
common-sense; but if, on the other hand, the time and conditions were
ripe, his common-sense was in every case equal to the emergency. He
knew himself, and never trusted his dollar or his fame in casual
opinions--never acted hastily or prematurely on great matters.

Mr. Lincoln believed that the great leading law of human nature is
motive. He reasoned all ideas of a disinterested action out of my mind.
I used to hold that an action could be pure, disinterested, and wholly
free from selfishness; but he divested me of that delusion. His idea was
that all human actions were caused by motives, and that at the bottom
of these motives was self. He defied me to act without motive and
unselfishly; and when I did the act and told him of it, he analyzed and
sifted it to the last grain. After he had concluded, I could not avoid
the admission that he had demonstrated the absolute selfishness of the
entire act. Although a profound analyzer of the laws of human nature
he could form no just construction of the motives of the particular
individual. He knew but little of the play of the features as seen in
the "human face divine." He could not distinguish between the paleness
of anger and the crimson tint of modesty. In determining what each play
of the features indicated he was pitiably weak.

The great predominating elements of Mr. Lincoln's peculiar character
were: first, his great capacity and power of reason; second, his
conscience and his excellent understanding; third, an exalted idea of
the sense of right and equity; fourth, his intense veneration of the
true and the good. His conscience, his heart and all the faculties and
qualities of his mind bowed submissively to the despotism of his reason.
He lived and acted from the standard of reason--that throne of logic,
home of principle--the realm of Deity in man. It is from this point Mr.
Lincoln must be viewed. Not only was he cautious, patient, and enduring;
not only had he concentration and great continuity of thought; but
he had profound analytical power. His vision was clear, and he was
emphatically the master of statement. His pursuit of the truth, as
before mentioned, was indefatigable. He reasoned from well-chosen
principles with such clearness, force, and directness that the tallest
intellects in the land bowed to him. He was the strongest man I ever
saw, looking at him from the elevated standpoint of reason and logic.
He came down from that height with irresistible and crashing force. His
Cooper Institute and other printed speeches will prove this; but his
speeches before the courts--especially the Supreme Court of Illinois--if
they had been preserved, would demonstrate it still more plainly.
Here he demanded time to think and prepare. The office of reason is to
determine the truth. Truth is the power of reason, and Lincoln loved
truth for its own sake. It was to him reason's food.

Conscience, the second great quality of Mr. Lincoln's character, is
that faculty which induces in us love of the just. Its real office is
justice; right and equity are its correlatives. As a court, it is in
session continuously; it decides all acts at all times. Mr. Lincoln
had a deep, broad, living conscience. His reason, however, was the real
judge; it told him what was true or false, and therefore good or bad,
right or wrong, just or unjust, and his conscience echoed back the
decision. His conscience ruled his heart; he was always just before
he was generous. It cannot be said of any mortal that he was always
absolutely just. Neither was Lincoln always just; but his general
life was. It follows that if Mr. Lincoln had great reason and great
conscience he must have been an honest man; and so he was. He was
rightfully entitled to the appellation "Honest Abe." Honesty was his
polar star.

Mr. Lincoln also had a good understanding; that is, the faculty that
comprehends the exact state of things and determines their relations,
near or remote. The understanding does not necessarily enquire for the
reason of things. While Lincoln was odd and original, while he lived
out of himself and by himself, and while he could absorb but little from
others, yet a reading of his speeches, messages, and letters satisfies
us that he had good understanding. But the strongest point in his
make-up was the knowledge he had of himself; he comprehended and
understood his own capacity--what he did and why he did it--better
perhaps than any man of his day. He had a wider and deeper comprehension
of his environments, of the political conditions especially, than
men who were more learned or had had the benefits of a more thorough

He was a very sensitive man,--modest to the point of diffidence,--and
often hid himself in the masses to prevent the discovery of his
identity. He was not indifferent, however, to approbation and public
opinion. He had no disgusting egotism and no pompous pride, no
aristocracy, no haughtiness, no vanity. Merging together the qualities
of his nature he was a meek, quiet, unobtrusive gentleman.

As many contradictory opinions prevail in reference to Mr. Lincoln's
heart and humanity as on the question of his judgment. As many persons
perhaps contend that he was cold and obdurate as that he was warm and
affectionate. The first thing the world met in contact with him was
his head and conscience; after that he exposed the tender side of his
nature--his heart, subject at all times to his exalted sense of
right and equity, namely his conscience. In proportion as he held his
conscience subject to his head, he held his heart subject to his head
and conscience. His humanity had to defer to his sense of justice and,
the eternal right. His heart was the lowest of these organs, if we may
call them such--the weakest of the three. Some men have reversed this
order and characterized his heart as his ruling organ. This estimate
of Mr. Lincoln endows him with love regardless of truth, justice, and
right. The question still is, was Lincoln cold and heartless, or warm
and affectionate? Can a man be all heart, all head, and all conscience?
Some of these are masters over the others, some will be dominant, ruling
with imperial sway, and thus giving character to the man. What, in the
first place, do we mean by a warm-hearted man? Is it one who goes out
of himself and reaches for others spontaneously, seeking to correct some
abuse to mankind because of a deep love for humanity, apart from equity
and truth, and who does what he does for love's sake? If so, Mr. Lincoln
was a cold man. If a man, woman, or child approached him, and the prayer
of such an one was granted, that itself was not evidence of his love.
The African was enslaved and deprived of his rights; a principle was
violated in doing so. Rights imply obligations as well as duties. Mr.
Lincoln was President; he was in a position that made it his duty,
through his sense of right, his love of principle, the constitutional
obligations imposed upon him by the oath of office, to strike the blow
against slavery. But did he do it for love? He has himself answered
the question "I would not free the slaves if I could preserve the Union
without it." When he freed the slaves there was no heart in the act.
This argument can be used against his too enthusiastic friends.

In general terms his life was cold--at least characterized by what many
persons would deem great indifference. He had, however, a strong latent
capacity to love: but the object must first come in the guise of a
principle, next it must be right and true--then it was lovely in his
sight. He loved humanity when it was oppressed--an abstract
love--as against the concrete love centered in an individual. He rarely
used terms of endearment, and yet he was proverbially tender and gentle.
He gave the key-note to his own character when he said: "With malice
towards none, with charity for all." In proportion to his want of deep,
intense love he had 110 hate and bore no malice. His charity for an
imperfect man was as broad as his devotion to principle was enduring.

"But was not Mr. Lincoln a man of great humanity?" asks a friend at my
elbow; to which I reply, "Has not that question been answered already?"
Let us suppose it has not. We must understand each other. What is meant
by his humanity? Is it meant that he had much of human nature in him? If
so, I grant that he was a man of humanity. If, in the event of the
above definition being unsatisfactory or untrue, it is meant that he
was tender and kind, then I again agree. But if the inference is that he
would sacrifice truth or right in the slightest degree for the love of
a friend, then he was neither tender nor kind; nor did he have any
humanity. The law of human nature is such that it cannot be all head,
all conscience, and all heart in one person at the same time. Our Maker
so constituted things that, where God through reason blazed the way, we
might boldly walk therein. The glory of Mr. Lincoln's power lay in the
just and magnificent equipoise of head, conscience, and heart; and here
his fame must rest or not at all.

Not only were Mr. Lincoln's perceptions good; not only was nature
suggestive to him; not only was he original and strong; not only had he
great reason, good understanding; not only did he love the true and
the good--the eternal right; not only was he tender and sympathetic and
kind;--but, in due proportion and in legitimate subordination, he had
a glorious combination of them all. Through his perceptions--the
suggestiveness of nature, his originality and strength; through his
magnificent reason, his understanding, his conscience, his tenderness,
quick sympathy, his heart; he approximated as nearly as human nature
and the imperfections of man would permit to an embodiment of the great
moral principle, "Do unto others as ye would they should do unto you."

Of Mr. Lincoln's will-power there are two opinions also: one that
he lacked any will; the other that he was all will. Both these
contradictory views have their vehement and honest champions. For the
great underlying principles of mind in man he had great respect. He
loved the true first, the right second, and the good last. His mind
struggled for truth, and his soul reached out for substances. He cared
not for forms, ways, methods--the non-substantial things of this world.
He could not, by reason of his structure and mental organization, care
anything about them. He did not have an intense care for any particular
or individual man--the dollar, property, rank, orders, manners, or
similar things; neither did he have any avarice or other like vice in
his nature. He detested somewhat all technical rules in law, philosophy,
and other sciences--mere forms everywhere--because they were, as a
general thing, founded on arbitrary thoughts and ideas, and not on
reason, truth, and the right. These things seemed to him lacking in
substance, and he disregarded them because they cramped the originality
of his genius. What suited a little narrow, critical mind did not suit
Mr. Lincoln any more than a child's clothes would fit his father's body.
Generally he took no interest in town affairs or local elections; he
attended no meetings that pertained to local interests. He did not
care--because by reason of his nature he could not--who succeeded to the
presidency of this or that society or railroad company; who made the
most money; who was going to Philadelphia, and what were the costs of
such a trip; who was going to be married; who among his friends got this
office or that--who was elected street commissioner Or health inspector.
No principle of truth, right, or justice being involved in any of these
things he could not be moved by them.*

     * A bitter, malignant fool who always had opposed Lincoln
     and his friends, and had lost no opportunity to abuse them,
     induced Lincoln to go to the Governor of Illinois and
     recommend him for an important office in the State Militia.
     There being no principle at stake Lincoln could not refuse
     the request. When his friends heard of it they were furious
     in their denunciation of his action. It mortified him
     greatly to learn that he had displeased them. "And yet," he
     said, a few days later, dwelling on the matter to me in the
     office, "I couldn't well refuse the little the fellow asked
     of me."

He could not understand why men struggled so desperately for the little
glory or lesser salary the small offices afforded. He made this
remark to me one day in Washington: "If ever this free people--this
Government--is utterly demoralized, it will come from this human
struggle for office--a way to live without work." It puzzled him a good
deal, he said, to get at the root of this dreaded disease, which spread
like contagion during the nation's death struggle.

Because he could not feel a deep interest in the things referred to,
nor manifest the same interest in those who were engaged in the popular
scramble, he was called indifferent--nay, ungrateful--to his friends.
This estimate of the man was a very unjust as well as unfair one. Mr.
Lincoln loved his friends with commendable loyalty: in many cases he
clung to them tenaciously, like iron to iron welded; and yet, because
he could not be actively aroused, nor enter into the spirit of their
anxiety for office, he was called ungrateful. But he was not so. He may
have seemed passive and lacking in interest; he may not have measured
his friendly duties by the applicant's hot desire; but yet he was never
ungrateful. Neither was he a selfish man. He would never have performed
an act, even to promote himself to the Presidency, if by that act any
human being was wronged. If it is said that he preferred Abraham Lincoln
to anyone else in the pursuit of his ambition, and that because of this
he was a selfish man, then I can see no impropriety in the charge. Under
the same conditions we should all be equally guilty.

[Illustration: Statue 354]

Remembering that Mr. Lincoln's mind moved logically, slowly, and
cautiously, the question of his will and its power is easily solved.
Although he cared but little for simple facts, rules, and methods, he
did care for the truth and right of principle. In debate he courteously
granted all the forms and non-essential things to his opponent.
Sometimes he yielded nine points out of ten. The nine he brushed aside
as husks or rubbish; but the tenth, being a question of substance, he
clung to with all his might. On the underlying principles of truth and
justice his will was as firm as steel and as tenacious as iron. It was
as solid, real, and vital as an idea on which the world turns. He
scorned to support or adopt an untrue position, in proportion as his
conscience prevented him from doing an unjust thing. Ask him to
sacrifice in the slightest degree his convictions of truth*--as he was
asked to do when he made his "house-divided-against-itself speech"--and
his soul would have exclaimed with indignant scorn, "The world perish

Such was Lincoln's will. Because on one line of questions--the
non-essential--he was pliable, and on the other he was as immovable as
the rocks, have arisen the contradictory notions prevalent regarding

     * "Mr. Lincoln seems to me too true and honest a man to have
     his eulogy written, and I have no taste for writing
     eulogies. I am sure that, if he were alive, he would feel
     that the exact truth regarding himself was far more worthy
     of himself and of his biographer than any flattering
     picture. I loved the man as he was, with his rugged
     features, his coarse, rebellious hair, his sad, dreamy eyes;
     and I love to see him, and I hope to describe him, as he
     was, and not otherwise."--Robert Dale Owen, January 22,
     1867, MS.

It only remains to say that he was inflexible and unbending in human
transactions when it was necessary to be so, and not otherwise. At
one moment he was pliable and expansive as gentle air; at the next as
tenacious and unyielding as gravity itself.

Thus I have traced Mr. Lincoln through his perceptions, his
suggestiveness, his judgment, and his four predominant qualities: powers
of reason, understanding, conscience, and heart. In the grand review of
his peculiar characteristics, nothing creates such an impressive effect
as his love of the truth. It looms up over everything else. His life
is proof of the assertion that he never yielded in his fundamental
conception of truth to any man for any end.

All the follies and wrong Mr. Lincoln ever fell into or committed sprang
out of these weak points: the want of intuitive judgment; the lack of
quick, sagacious knowledge of the play and meaning of men's features as
written on the face; the want of the sense of propriety of things; his
tenderness and mercy; and lastly, his unsuspecting nature. He was deeply
and sincerely honest himself, and assumed that others were so. He never
suspected men; and hence in dealing with them he was easily imposed

All the wise and good things Mr. Lincoln ever did sprang out of his
great reason, his conscience, his understanding, his heart, his love of
the truth, the right, and the good. I am speaking now of his particular
and individual faculties and qualities, not of their combination or
the result of any combinations. Run out these qualities and faculties
abstractly, and see what they produce. For instance, a tender heart, a
strong reason, a broad under standing, an exalted conscience, a love
of the true and the good must, proportioned reasonably and applied
practically, produce a man of great power and great humanity.

As illustrative of a combination in Mr. Lincoln's organization, it may
be said that his eloquence lay in the strength of his logical faculty,
his supreme power of reasoning, his great understanding, and his love
of principle; in his clear and accurate vision; in his cool and masterly
statement of principles around which the issues gather; and in the
statement of those issues and the grouping of the facts that are to
carry conviction to the minds of men of every grade of intelligence. He
was so clear that he could not be misunderstood or long misrepresented.
He stood square and bolt upright to his convictions, and anyone who
listened to him would be convinced that he formed his thoughts
and utterances by them. His mind was not exactly a wide, broad,
generalizing, and comprehensive mind, nor yet a versatile, quick, and
subtle one, bounding here and there as emergencies demanded; but it was
deep, enduring, strong, like a majestic machine running in deep iron
grooves with heavy flanges on its wheels.

Mr. Lincoln himself was a very sensitive man, and hence, in dealing
with others, he avoided wounding their hearts or puncturing their
sensibility. He was unusually considerate of the feelings of other
men, regardless of their rank, condition, or station. At first sight he
struck one with his plainness, simplicity of manner, sincerity, candor,
and truthfulness. He had no double interests and no overwhelming dignity
with which to chill the air around his visitor. He was always easy of
approach and thoroughly democratic. He seemed to throw a charm around
every man who ever met him. To be in his presence was a pleasure, and
no man ever left his company with injured feelings unless most richly

The universal testimony, "He is an honest man," gave him a firm hold on
the masses, and they trusted him with a blind religious faith. His sad,
melancholy face excited their sympathy, and when the dark days came it
was their heart-strings that entwined and sustained him. Sympathy,
we are told, is one of the strongest and noblest incentives to human
action. With the sympathy and love of the people to sustain him, Lincoln
had unlimited power over them; he threw an invisible and weightless
harness over them, and drove them through disaster and desperation to
final victory. The trust and worship by the people of Lincoln were
the result of his simple character. He held himself not aloof from the
masses. He became one of them. They feared together, they struggled
together, they hoped together; thus melted and moulded into one, they
became one in thought, one in will, one in action. If Lincoln cautiously
awaited the full development of the last fact in the great drama before
he acted, when longer waiting would be a crime, he knew that the people
were determinedly at his back. Thus, when a blow was struck, it came
with the unerring aim and power of a bolt from heaven. A natural
king--not ruling men, but leading them along the drifts and trends of
their own tendencies, always keeping in mind the consent of the
governed, he developed what the future historian will call the sublimest
order of conservative statesmanship.

[Illustration: Lincoln Monument, Springfield 361]

Whatever of life, vigor, force, and power of eloquence his peculiar
qualities gave him; whatever there was in a fair, manly, honest, and
impartial administration of justice under law to all men at all times;
whatever there was in a strong will in the right governed by tenderness
and mercy; whatever there was in toil and sublime patience; whatever
there was in these things or a wise combination of them, Lincoln is
justly entitled to in making up the impartial verdict of history. These
limit and define him as a statesman, as an orator, as an executive of
the nation, and as a man. They developed in all the walks of his life;
they were his law; they were his nature, they were Abraham Lincoln.

This long, bony, sad man floated down the Sangamon river in a frail
canoe in the spring of 1831. Like a piece of driftwood he lodged at
last, without a history, strange, penniless, and alone. In sight of the
capital of Illinois, in the fatigue of daily toil he struggled for the
necessaries of life. Thirty years later this same peculiar man left the
Sangamon river, backed by friends, by power, by the patriotic prayers of
millions of people, to be the ruler of the greatest nation in the world.

As the leader of a brave people in their desperate struggle for national
existence, Abraham Lincoln will always be an interesting historical

His strong, honest, sagacious, and noble life will always possess a
peculiar charm. Had it not been for his conservative statesmanship,
his supreme confidence in the wisdom of the people, his extreme care
in groping his way among facts and before ideas, this nation might
have been two governments to-day. The low and feeble circulation of
his blood; his healthful irritability, which responded so slowly to the
effects of stimuli; the strength of his herculean frame; his peculiar
organism, conserving its force; his sublime patience; his wonderful
endurance; his great hand and heart, saved this country from division,
when division meant its irreparable ruin.

The central figure of our national history, the sublime type of our
civilization, posterity, with the record of his career and actions
before it, will decree that, whether Providence so ordained it or not,
Abraham Lincoln was the man for the hour.



The following letters by Mr. Lincoln to his relatives were at one time
placed in my hands. As they have never before been published entire I
have thought proper to append them here. They are only interesting as
showing Mr. Lincoln's affection for his father and step-mother, and
as specimens of the good, sound sense with which he approached every
undertaking. The list opens with a letter to his father written from
Washington while a member of Congress:

"Washington, Dec. 24, 1848.

"My Dear Father:

"Your letter of the 7th was received night before last. I very
cheerfully send you the twenty dollars, which sum you say is necessary
to save your land from sale. It is singular that you should have
forgotten a judgment against you--and it is more singular that the
plaintiff should have let you forget it so long, particularly as I
suppose you have always had property enough to satisfy a judgment of
that amount. Before you pay it, it would be well to be sure you have not
paid, or at least that you cannot prove you have paid it.

"Give my love to Mother and all the Connections.

"Affectionately, your son,

"A. Lincoln."

His step-brother, John D. Johnston, for whom Mr. Lincoln always
exhibited the affection of a real brother, was the recipient of many
letters. Some of them were commonplace, but between the lines of each
much good, homely philosophy may be read. Johnston, whom I knew, was
exactly what his distinguished step-brother charged--an idler. In every
emergency he seemed to fall back on Lincoln for assistance. The aid
generally came, but with it always some plain but sensible suggestion.
The series opens as follows:

"Springfield, Feb. 23,1850.

"Dear Brother:

"Your letter about a mail contract was received yesterday. I have made
out a bid for you at $120, guaranteed it myself, got our P. M. here to
certify it, and send it on. Your former letter, concerning some man's
claim for a pension, was also received. I had the claim examined by
those who are practised in such matters, and they decide he cannot get a

"As you make no mention of it, I suppose you had not learned that we
lost our little boy. He was sick fifteen days, and died in the morning
of the first day of this month. It was not our first, but our second
child. We miss him very much.

"Your Brother, in haste,

"A. Lincoln."

"To John D. Johnston."

Following is another, which, however, bears no date:

"Dear Johnston:

"Your request for eighty dollars I do not think it best to comply with
now. At the various times when I have helped you a little you have said
to me, 'We can get along very well now,' but in a very short time I
find you in the same difficulty again. Now this can only happen by some
defect in your conduct. What that defect is, I think I know. You are not
_lazy_, and still you are an _idler_. I doubt whether, since I saw you,
you have done a good whole day's work in any one day. You do not very
much dislike to work, and still you do not work much, merely because
it does not seem to you that you could get much for it. This habit
of uselessly wasting time is the whole difficulty; and it is vastly
important to you, and still more so to your children, that you should
break the habit. It is more important to them because they have longer
to live, and can keep out of an idle habit, before they are in it,
easier than they can get out after they are in.

"You are in need of some ready money, and what I propose is that you
shall go to work 'tooth and nail' for somebody who will give you money
for it. Let father and your boys take charge of things at home, prepare
for a crop, and make the crop, and you go to work for the best money
wages, or in discharge of any debt you owe, that you can get,--and to
secure you a fair reward for your labor, I now promise you that for
every dollar you will, between this and the first of next May, get for
your own labor, either in money or as your own indebtedness, I will then
give you one other dollar. By this, if you hire yourself at ten dollars
a month, from me you will get ten more, making twenty dollars a month
for your work. In this I do not mean you shall go off to St. Louis, or
the lead mines, or the gold mines in California, but I mean for you to
go at it for the best wages you can get close to home in Coles County.
Now if you will do this, you will be soon out of debt, and, what is
better, you will have a habit that will keep you from getting in debt
again. But if I should now clear you out, next year you would be just as
deep in as ever. You say you would give your place in heaven for $70 or
$80. Then you value your place in heaven very cheap, for I am sure you
can, with the offer I make, get the seventy or eighty dollars for four
or five months' work.

"You say, if I will furnish you the money, you will deed me the land,
and if you don't pay the money back you will deliver possession.
Nonsense! If you can't now live with the land, how will you then live
without it? You have always been kind to me, and I do not mean to be
unkind to you. On the contrary, if you will but follow my advice, you
will find it worth more than eight times eighty dollars to you.


"Your brother,

"A. Lincoln."

The following, written when the limit of Thomas Lincoln's life seemed
rapidly approaching, shows in what esteem his son held the relation that
existed between them:

"Springfield, Jan y 12, 1851.

"Dear Brother:

"On the day before yesterday I received a letter from Harriett, written
at Greenup. She says she has just returned from your house; and that
Father is very low, and will hardly recover. She also says that you have
written me two letters; and that although you do not expect me to come
now, you wonder that I do not write. I received both your letters, and
although I have not answered them, it is not because I have forgotten
them, or [not] been interested about them, but because it appeared to me
I could write nothing which could do any good. You already know I desire
that neither Father or Mother shall be in want of any comfort either in
health or sickness while they live; and I feel sure you have not failed
to use my name, if necessary, to procure a doctor, or anything else for
Father in his present sickness. My business is such that I could hardly
leave home now, if it were not, as it is, that my own wife is sick
a-bed (it is a case of baby-sickness, and I suppose is not dangerous). I
sincerely hope Father may yet recover his health; but at all events tell
him to remember to call upon and confide in our great, and good, and
merciful Maker, who will not turn away from him in any extremity. He
notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers the hairs of our heads; and He
will not forget the dying man who puts his trust in Him. Say to him that
if we could meet now it is doubtful whether it would not be more painful
than pleasant; but that if it be his lot to go now he will soon have a
joyous meeting with many loved ones gone before, and where the rest of
us, through the help of God, hope ere long to join them.

"Write me again when you receive this.


"A. Lincoln."

Lincoln's mentor-like interest in his step-mother and his shiftless and
almost unfortunate step-brother was in no wise diminished by the death
of his father. He writes:

"Springfield, Aug. 31,1851.

"Dear Brother:

"Inclosed is the deed for the land. We are all well, and have nothing in
the way of news. We have had no cholera here for about two weeks.

"Give my love to all, and especially to Mother.

"Yours as ever,

"A. Lincoln."

No more practical or kindly-earnest advice could have been given than

"Shelbyville, Nov. 4, 1851.

"Dear Brother:

"When I came into Charleston day before yesterday I learned that you are
anxious to sell the land where you live, and move to Missouri. I have
been thinking of this ever since, and cannot but think such a notion is
utterly foolish. What can you do in Missouri better than here? Is the
land richer? Can you there, any more than here, raise corn and wheat and
oats without work? Will anybody there, any more than here, do your work
for you? If you intend to go to work, there is no better place than
right where you are; if you do not intend to go to work you cannot get
along anywhere. Squirming and crawling about from place to place can do
no good. You have raised no crop this year, and what you really want
is to sell the land, get the money and spend it. Part with the land you
have, and, my life upon it, you will never after own a spot big enough
to bury you in. Half you will get for the land you spend in moving to
Missouri, and the other half you will eat and drink and wear out, and no
foot of land will be bought. Now I feel it is my duty to have no hand in
such a piece of foolery. I feel that it is so even on your own account,
and particularly on Mother's account. The eastern forty acres I intend
to keep for Mother while she lives; if you will not cultivate it,
it will rent for enough to support her; at least it will rent for
something. Her dower in the other two forties she can let you have, and
no thanks to me.

"Now do not misunderstand this letter. I do not write it in any
unkindness. I write it in order, if possible, to get you to face the
truth, which truth is, you are destitute because you have idled away all
your time. Your thousand pretences for not getting along better are all
nonsense; they deceive nobody but yourself. Go to work is the only cure
for your case.

"A word for Mother: Chapman tells me he wants you to go and live with
him. If I were you I would try it awhile. If you get tired of it (as I
think you will not) you can return to your own home. Chapman feels very
kindly to you; and I have no doubt he will make your situation very

"Sincerely your son,

"A. Lincoln."

The list closes with this one written by Lincoln while on the circuit:

"Shelbyville, Nov. 9, 1851.

"Dear Brother:

''When I wrote you before, I had not received your letter. I still
think as I did; but if the land can be sold so that I get three hundred
dollars to put to interest for Mother, I will not object if she does
not. But before I will make a deed, the money must be had, or secured
beyond all doubt at ten per cent.

"As to Abraham, I do not want him on my own account; but I understand he
wants to live with me so that he can go to school and get a fair start
in the world, which I very much wish him to have. When I reach home, if
I can make it convenient to take, I will take him, provided there is no
mistake between us as to the object and terms of my taking him.

"In haste, as ever,

"A. Lincoln."


"In the spring term of the Tazewell County Court in 1847, which at that
time was held in the village of Tremont, I was detained as a witness an
entire week. Lincoln was employed in several suits, and among them was
one of Case _vs._ Snow Bros. The Snow Bros., as appeared in evidence
(who were both minors), had purchased from an old Mr. Case what was then
called a "prairie team," consisting of two or three yoke of oxen and
prairie plow, giving therefor their joint note for some two hundred
dollars; but when pay-day came refused to pay, pleading the minor act.
The note was placed in Lincoln's hands for collection. The suit was
called and a jury impanelled. The Snow Bros, did not deny the note, but
pleaded through their counsel that they were minors, and that Mr. Case
knew they were at the time of the contract and conveyance. All this was
admitted by Mr. Lincoln, with his peculiar phrase, 'Yes, gentlemen, I
reckon that's so.' The minor act was read and its validity admitted in
the same manner. The counsel of the defendants were permitted without
question to state all these things to the jury, and to show by the
statute that these minors could not be held responsible for their
contract. By this time you may well suppose that I began to be uneasy.
'What!' thought I, 'this good old man, who confided in these boys, to
be wronged in this way, and even his counsel, Mr. Lincoln, to submit in
silence!' I looked at the court, Judge Treat, but could read nothing in
his calm and dignified demeanor. Just then, Mr. Lincoln slowly got up,
and in his strange, half-erect attitude and clear, quiet accent began:
'_Gentlemen of the Jury_, are you willing to allow these boys to begin
life with this shame and disgrace attached to their character? If you
are, I am not. The best judge of human character that ever wrote has
left these immortal words for all of us to ponder:

     "Good name in man or woman, dear my lord,
     Is the immediate jewel of their souls:
     Who steals my purse steals trash;'tis something, nothing;
     'Twas mine,'tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
     But he that filches from me my good name
     Robs me of that which not enriches him
     And makes me poor indeed."'

"Then rising to his full height, and looking upon the defendants with
the compassion of a brother, his long right arm extended toward the
opposing counsel, he continued: 'Gentlemen of the jury, these poor
innocent boys would never have attempted this low villany had it not
been for the advice of these lawyers.' Then for a few minutes he showed
how even the noble science of law may be prostituted. With a scathing
rebuke to those who thus belittle their profession, he concluded: 'And
now, gentlemen, you have it in _your_ power to set these boys right
before the world.' He plead for the young men only; I think he did
not mention his client's name. The jury, without leaving their seats,
decided that the defendants must pay the debt; and the latter, after
hearing Lincoln, were as willing to pay it as the jury were determined
they should. I think the entire argument lasted not above five
minutes."--_George W. Minier_, statement, Apr. 10, 1882.


Among Lincoln's colleagues at the Springfield bar, after his re-entry
into politics in 1854, and until his elevation to the Presidency,
were, John T. Stuart, Stephen T. Logan, John A. McClernand, Benjamin S.
Edwards, David Logan, E. B. Herndon, W. I. Ferguson, James H. Matheney,
C. C. Brown, N. M. Broadwell, Charles W. Keyes, John E. Rosette, C.
S. Zane, J. C. Conkling, Shelby M. Cullom, and G. W. Shutt. There were
others, notably John M. Palmer and Richard J. Oglesby, who came in
occasionally from other counties and tried suits with and against us,
but they never became members of our bar, strictly speaking, till after
the war had closed.--W. H. H.


"The conversation took place in the office of Lincoln & Herndon, in the
presence of P. L. Harrison, William H. Herndon, Pascal Enos, and myself.
It originated in this way: After the debate at Springfield on the 4th
and 5th of October, 1854, William Jayne, John Cassiday, Pascal Enos,
the writer, and others whose names I do not now remember, filled out and
signed a written request to Lincoln to follow Douglas until he 'ran him
into his hole' or made him halloo 'Enough,' and that day Lincoln was
giving in his report. He said that the next morning after the Peoria
debate Douglas came to him and flattered him that he knew more on the
question of Territorial organization in this government than all the
Senate of the United States, and called his mind to the trouble the
latter had given him. He added that Lincoln had already given him more
trouble than all the opposition in the Senate, and then proposed to
Lincoln that if he (Lincoln) would go home and not follow him, he
(Douglas) would go to no more of his appointments, would make no more
speeches, and would go home and remain silent during the rest of
the campaign. Lincoln did not make another speech till after the
election."--B. F, Irwin's statement, Feb. 8, 1866, unpublished MS.

See ante pp. 368-369.


Following is a copy of the call to select delegates to the Bloomington
Convention held May 29, 1856, when the Republican party in Illinois came
into existence. It will be remembered that I signed Lincoln's name under
instructions from him by telegraph. The original document I gave several
years ago to a friend in Boston, Mass.:

"We, the undersigned, citizens of Sangamon County, who are opposed to
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and the present administration,
and who are in favor of restoring to the general government the policy
of Washington and Jefferson, would suggest the propriety of a County
Convention, to be held in the city of Springfield on Saturday, the 24th
day of May, at 2 o'clock, p. M., to appoint delegates to the Bloomington

"A. Lincoln,

"W. H. Herndon and others."

The decided stand Lincoln took in this instance, and his speech in
the Convention, undoubtedly paved the way for his leadership in the
Republican party.--W. H. H.


One morning in 1859, Lincoln and I, impressed with the probability of
war between the two sections of the country, were discussing the
subject in the office. "The position taken by the advocates of State
Sovereignty," remarked Lincoln, "always reminds me of the fellow who
contended that the proper place for the big kettle was inside of the
little one." To me, war seemed inevitable, but when I came to view
the matter squarely, I feared a difficulty the North would have in
controlling the various classes of people and shades of sentiment, so
as to make them an effective force in case of war: I feared the lack
of some great head and heart to lead us onward. Lincoln had great
confidence in the masses, believing that, when they were brought face to
face with the reality of the conflict, all differences would disappear,
and that they would be merged into one. To illustrate his idea he made
use of this figure: "Go to the river bank with a coarse sieve and fill
it with gravel. After a vigorous shaking you will observe that the small
pebbles and sand have sunk from view and fallen to the ground. The next
larger in size, unable to slip between the wires, will still be found
within the sieve. By thorough and repeated shakings you will find that,
of the pebbles still left in the sieve, the largest ones will have risen
to the top. Now," he continued, "if, as you say, war is inevitable and
will shake the country from centre to circumference, you will find that
the little men will fall out of view in the shaking. The masses will
rest on some solid foundation, and the big men will have climbed to
the top. Of these latter, one greater than all the rest will leap forth
armed and equipped--the people's leader in the conflict." Little did I
realize the strength of the masses when united and fighting for a common
purpose; and much less did I dream that the great leader soon to be
tried was at that very moment touching my elbow!--W. H. H.


Among other things used against Lincoln in the campaign of 1860 was
the charge that he had been a member of a Know-Nothing lodge. When the
charge was laid at his door he wrote the following letter to one of his
confidential political friends. I copy from the original MS.:


"Springfield, Ills., July 21, 1860.

"Hon. A. Jonas.

"My Dear Sir:

"Yours of the 20th is received. I suppose as good, or even
better, men than I may have been in American or Know-Nothing lodges;
but, in point of fact, I never was in one, at Quincy or elsewhere. I
was never in Quincy but one day and two nights while Know-Nothing lodges
were in existence, and you were with me that day and both those nights.
I had never been there before in my life; and never afterwards, till the
joint debate with Douglas in 1858. It was in 1854, when I spoke in
some hall there, and after the speaking you, with others, took me to
an oyster saloon, passed an hour there, and you walked with me to, and
parted with me at, the Quincy House quite late at night. I left by stage
for Naples before daylight in the morning, having come in by the same
route after dark the evening previous to the speaking, when I found you
waiting at the Quincy House to meet me. A few days after I was there,
Richardson, as I understood, started the same story about my having
been in a Know-Nothing lodge. When I heard of the charge, as I did
soon after, I taxed my recollection for some incident which could have
suggested it; and I remembered that, on parting with you the last night,
I went to the office of the Hotel to take my stage passage for the
morning, was told that no stage office for that line was kept there, and
that I must see the driver before retiring, to insure his calling for me
in the morning; and a servant was sent with me to find the driver, who,
after taking me a square or two, stopped me, and stepped perhaps a dozen
steps farther, and in my hearing called to some one, who answered him,
apparently from the upper part of a building, and promised to call with
the stage for me at the Quincy House. I returned and went to bed, and
before day the stage called and took me. This is all.

"That I never was in a Know-Nothing lodge in Quincy I should expect
could be easily proved by respectable men who were always in the lodges,
and never saw me there. An affidavit of one or two such would put the
matter at rest.

"And now, a word of caution. Our adversaries think they can gain a point
if they could force me to openly deny the charge, by which some degree
of offence would be given to the Americans. For this reason it must not
publicly appear that I am paying any attention to the charge,

"Yours truly,

"A. Lincoln."


At one time, while holding the office of attorney for the city of
Springfield, I had a case in the Supreme Court, which involved the
validity or constitutionality of a law regulating the matter of voting.
Although a city case, it really abridged the right of suffrage. Being
Lincoln's partner I wanted him to assist me in arguing the questions
involved. He declined to do so, saying: "I am opposed to the limitation
or lessening of the right of suffrage; if anything, I am in favor of its
extension or enlargement. I want to lift men up--to broaden rather than
contract their privileges."--W. H. H.


"Upon reaching Washington with the body of Booth--having come up the
Potomac--it was at once removed from the tug-boat to a gun-boat that lay
at the dock at the Navy Yard, where it remained about thirty-six
hours. It was there examined by the Surgeon-General and staff and other
officers, and identified by half a score of persons who had known him
well. Toward evening of the second day Gen. L. C. Baker, then chief
of the 'Detective Bureau of the War Department,' received orders from
Secretary of War Stanton to dispose of the body. Stanton said, 'Put it
where it will not be disturbed until Gabriel blows his last trumpet.'
I was ordered to assist him. The body was placed in a row-boat, and,
taking with us one trusty man to manage the boat, we quietly floated
down the river. Crowds of people all along the shore were watching us.
For a blind we took with us a heavy ball and chain, and it was soon
going from lip to lip that we were about to sink the body in the
Potomac. Darkness soon came on, completely concealing our movements,
and under its cover we pulled slowly back to the old Penitentiary, which
during the war was used as an arsenal. The body was then lifted from the
boat and carried through a door opening on the river front. Under the
stone floor of what had been a prison cell a shallow grave was dug,
and the body, with the United States blanket for a 'winding-sheet,' was
there interred. There also it remained till Booth's accomplices were
hanged. It was then taken up and buried with his companions in crime. I
have since learned that the remains were again disinterred and given
to his friends, and that they now rest in the family burial-place in
Baltimore, Md."--From MS. of L. B. Baker, late Lieut. and A. Q. M. 1st
D. C. Cav.


"The weird and melancholy association of eloquence and poetry had a
strong fascination for Mr. Lincoln's mind. Tasteful composition,
either of prose or poetry, which faithfully contrasted the realities of
eternity with the unstable and fickle fortunes of time, made a strong
impression on his mind. In the indulgence of this melancholy taste it
is related of him that the poem, 'Immortality,' he knew by rote and
appreciated very highly. He had a strange liking for the verses, and
they bear a just resemblance to his fortune. Mr. Lincoln, at the time of
his assassination, was encircled by a halo of immortal glory such as had
never before graced the brow of mortal man. He had driven treason from
its capital city, had slept in the palace of its once proud and defiant,
but now vanquished leader, and had saved his country and its accrued
glories of three-quarters of a century from destruction. He rode, not
with the haughty and imperious brow of an ancient conqueror, but with
the placid complacency of a pure patriot, through the streets of the
political Babylon of modern times. He had ridden over battlefields
immortal in history, when, in power at least, he was the leader. Having
assured the misguided citizens of the South that he meant them no harm
beyond a determination to maintain the government, he returned buoyant
with hope to the Executive Mansion where for four long years he had been
held, as it were, a prisoner.

"Weary with the stories of state, he goes to seek the relaxation of
amusement at the theatre; sees the gay crowd as he passes in; is cheered
and graciously smiled upon by fair women and brave men; beholds the
gorgeous paraphernalia of the stage, the brilliantly lighted scene, the
arched ceiling, with its grotesque and inimitable figuring to heighten
the effect and make the occasion one of unalloyed pleasure. The hearts
of the people beat in unison with his over a redeemed and ransomed land.
A pause in the play--a faint pistol shot is heard. No one knows its
significance save the hellish few who are in the plot. A wild shriek,
such as murder wrings from the heart of woman, follows: the proud
form of Mr. Lincoln has sunk in death. The scene is changed to a wild
confusion such as no poet can describe, no painter delineate. Well might
the murdered have said and oft repeated:

     "Tis the wink of an eye,'tis the draught of a breath,
     From the blossom of health to the paleness of death,
     From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud,--
     Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?"

[From a speech by Hon. Lawrence Weldon, at a bar-meeting held in the
United States Court at Springfield, Ills., in June, 1865.]


An interesting recollection of Lincoln comes from the pen of Colonel
LeGrand B. Cannon, of New York. One cannot fail to be impressed with the
strength of the side-light thrown by these reminiscences on a life as
peculiar, in some respects, as it was grand and unique in others:

"It was my great good fortune," relates Colonel Cannon, "to know
something of Mr. Lincoln distinct from his official life. Intensely in
earnest I entered the service at the opening of the Rebellion as a
staff officer in the regular army and was assigned to the Department of
Virginia, with headquarters at Fort Monroe. Major-General Wool was
in command of the Department, and I was honored by him as his chief
of-staff, and enjoyed his entire confidence. It was the only gate open
for communication with the rebel government, and General Wool was the
agent for such intercourse.

"In the early stages of the war there was a want of harmony between the
army and navy about us which seriously embarrassed military operations,
resulting in the President and Secretaries Chase and Stanton coming
to Fort Monroe to adjust matters. Domestic comforts were limited at
headquarters, and the President occupied my room. I was (in accordance
with military etiquette) assigned to him as 'Aide-in-Waiting' and
Secretary. Although I had frequently met the President as 'Bearer of
Dispatches,' I was not a little prejudiced, and a good deal irritated,
at the levity which he was charged with indulging in. In grave matters,
jesting and frolicking seemed to me shocking, with such vital matters at
stake, and I confess to thinking of Nero.

"But all this changed when I came to know him; and I very soon discerned
that he had a sad nature; but that, although a terrible burden, his
sadness did not originate in his great official responsibilities. I had
heard that his home was not pleasant, but did not know that there was
more beyond it.

"The day after Mr. Lincoln came to us he said to me: 'I suppose you have
neither a Bible nor a copy of Shakespeare here?' I replied that I had a
Bible, and the General had Shakespeare, and that the latter never missed
a night without reading it. 'Won't he lend it to me?' inquired the
President. I answered, 'Yes,' and, of course, obtained it for him.

"The day following he read by himself in one of my offices, two hours or
more, entirely alone, I being engaged in a connecting room on duty. He
finally interrupted me, inviting me to rest while he would read to me.
He read from _Macbeth, Lear_, and finally. _King John_. In reading the
passage where Constance bewails to the King the loss of her child, I
noticed that his voice trembled and he was deeply moved. Laying the book
on the table he said:

"'Did you ever dream of a lost friend and feel that you were having a
sweet communion with that friend, and yet a consciousness that it was
not a reality?'

"'Yes,' I replied, 'I think almost any one may have had such an

"'So do I,' he mused; 'I dream of my dead boy, Willie, again and again.'

"I shall never forget the sigh nor the look of sorrow that accompanied
this expression. He was utterly overcome; his great frame shook, and,
bowing down on the table, he wept as only such a man in the breaking
down of a great sorrow could weep. It is needless to say that I wept
in sympathy, and quietly left the room that he might recover without

"Lincoln never again referred to his boy, but he made me feel that he
had given me a sacred confidence, and he ever after treated me with a
tenderness and regard that won my love.

"Again, some days later, I had been absent on a reconnoissance, and
returned late in the afternoon. I was in my room dressing for dinner
(which was a very formal affair, as, besides the Administration, we had,
almost daily, distinguished foreigners to dine) when the President came
in. Seeing me in full uniform he said:

"'Why, Colonel, you're fixing up mighty fine. Suppose you lend me your
comb and brush, and I'll put on a few touches, too.'

"I handed the desired articles to him and he toyed with the comb awhile
and then laid it down, exclaiming:

"'This thing will never get through my hair. Now, if you have such a
thing as they comb a horse's tail with, I believe I can use it.' After
a merry laugh, he continued: 'By the way, I can tell you a good story
about my hair. When I was nominated, at Chicago, an enterprising fellow
thought that a great many people would like to see how Abe Lincoln
looked, and, as I had not long before sat for a photograph, this fellow
having seen it, rushed over and bought the negative. He at once got out
no end of wood-cuts, and, so active was their circulation, they were
selling in all parts of the country. Soon after they reached Springfield
I heard a boy crying them for sale on the streets. 'Here's your likeness
of Abe Lincoln!' he shouted.

"'Buy one; price only two shillings! Will look a good deal better when he
gets his hair combed!'"

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Abraham Lincoln, Volume 2 (of 2) - The True Story of a Great Life" ***

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