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can war speech. By nature and training, one would then have supposed Sumner a predestined Whig of the true Boston type, if he were to meddle with politics at all. He seemed, indeed, not to have been constructed for a politician. In his noted Fourth-of-July oration (1845), on “ The Grandeur of Nations,” he denounced war and warriors, and deprecated all preparations for war, even militia organization. “Military chieftains ” he could not abide, and so fixed his choice on Van Buren in preference to Taylor or Cass. Even Daniel Webster had said the Whig nomination was one “not fit to be made." It was very late in the canvass before he came to the support of his party in a Faneuil Hall speech against Van Buren and the Buffalo platform rather than in favor of Taylor. Horace Greeley, whose Tribune had a New England constituency, almost missed coming out for Taylor and Fillmore, but ran up that banner at the last moment, after their election was deemed sure. Altogether, certainly, the prospect was far from pleasing to Massachusetts Whigs when they gathered at Worcester for their State convention, held on the 13th of September.
That city was the very headquarters of the Free Soil revolt; but it had been the wonted place for State conventions, and it was best to beard the lion in his den. Two orators from a distance were invited to speak on the evening of the 12th, Abraham Lincoln and Leslie Coombs, the latter the neighbor and personal friend of Henry Clay. The former was claimed by the chairman, who introduced him as “one of our Lincolns.” Contemporary press reports — only a summary, as usual in those days — indicate that his speech included in substance a good share of the most telling passages of his 27th of July speech in the House, and the main arguments of his earlier one on the Mexican War. The principal new matter seems to have been in relation to the extension of slavery. As Webster did later, Lincoln argued that the Whigs were as positive as the Free Soilers, and more practical than they, in supporting free soil; that opponents of slavery would gain nothing and lose much in helping to defeat the Whig candidate and to elect Cass. It was called a “truly masterly and convincing” speech; and at its close “the audience gave three enthusiastic cheers for Illinois, and three more for the eloquent Whig member from that State.” Another contemporary account represents it as “one of the best speeches ever heard in Worcester,” and of good effect in reclaiming errant Whigs. It made Lincoln personally known to a great number of people from all parts of the State. He was much in request thereafter as a speaker, and several invitations were accepted during the next ten days. He spoke at New Bedford, Dedham, Dorchester, Cambridge, Lowell, and other places; and more notably in Boston, at Tremont Temple, on the evening of September 22d, on the same platform with Governor William H. Seward, who preceded him.
This was almost certainly the first time these two speakers ever met. Seward had as yet seen no Congressional service, though he had twice been elected Governor of New York. In the February following (1849) he was elected to the United States Senate. He was not altogether a pleasing speaker as to voice or manner, though he commanded close attention by the matter which he presented with finished rhetoric. He was, of course, much more radical in those days as to slavery than Lincoln, and in Northern Ohio, later in the canvass, used such extreme expressions in endeavoring to stay the defection of anti-slavery Whigs as to have a reactionary effect in other directions. Massachusetts voted for General Taylor, but Ohio did not. Many years after their later association in more important affairs was ended, it was told, no doubt on the authority of Mr. Seward, that in conversing together on that evening in Boston when the speaking was over, Lincoln remarked: “I have been thinking over what you have said. I reckon you're right. We have got to deal with this slavery question, and got to give much more attention to it hereafter than we have been doing.” * If his activity was quickened or his purpose modified by what he heard that night, Lincoln's opinions were not materially changed. This may be seen from his own words before and after.
He called upon Thurlow Weed at Albany, on the way homeward from Boston - as appears from the latter's recollections — and they together had an interview with Millard Fillmore, the candidate for Vice-President. He was gaining acquaintance with the chiefs of both wings of the Whig party in New York.
The few weeks of the campaign remaining after his return home were chiefly devoted to the canvass in Illinois. In his own district Judge Stephen T. Logan, the Whig nominee for Representative in Congress, was beaten; but the majority for General Taylor was over fifteen hundred—slightly less than Lincoln had received at his election two years before.
*E. L. Pierce's “Life of Sumner." Seward” (F. W. S.), II., 80.
See also “ Life of W. H.
The defection from the Democratic party in New York, in which Van Buren had a large vote, gave that State to Taylor, as the “ Liberty” vote four years previously had given it to Polk; and in both cases the large electoral vote of the Empire State was decisive of the general result. Zachary Taylor and Lewis Cass carried each an equal number of States — fifteen — Taylor having one hundred and sixty-three and Cass one hundred and twenty-seven electoral votes.
The second session of the Thirtieth Congress, coming between the election and the inauguration of a new President, would no doubt have been a very quiet one but for the territorial acquisition from Mexico. An older controversy that had been languishing was now revived. If Congress really had exclusive and complete jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, why should it longer tolerate slavery there? Why should the sale of slaves, as a regular market business, be permitted to go on almost under the windows of the Capitol?
Where Lincoln's sympathies were, as to these latter matters, may be clearly seen from his action on the territorial question. There were to his mind, however, practical difficulties in the one case that did not exist in the other. Whatever his reasons, he now stood in the same position as when he wrote his “ protest" in 1837. When Mr. Palfrey, of Massachusetts, sought to introduce a bill “ to repeal all acts, or parts of acts, of Congress, establishing or maintaining slavery or the slave trade in the District of Columbia,” and Mr. Holmes, of South Carolina, objected, under the rules, Lincoln was one of the few Northern men who voted against granting the leave asked. His colleague, Mr. Wentworth, from the Chicago district, and one or two other Northern Democrats, voted in favor of Mr. Pal. frey's request. Mr. Vinton, of Ohio, and Mr. Dunn, of Indiana, among Northern Whigs, voted with Lincoln on the side of the united South. The negative majority was altogether but thirteen.
On the 21st of December, Mr. Gott, of New York, introduced a resolution, with a preamble declaring that the “ traffic now prosecuted in this metropolis of the Republic in human beings, as chattels, is contrary to national justice and the fundamental principles of our political system, and is notoriously a reproach to our country throughout Christendom, and a serious hindrance to the progress of republican liberty among the nations of the earth;" — the resolution instructing the District Committee “to report a bill, as soon as practicable, prohibiting the trade in said District."
Lincoln and three other Northern Whigs — Ingersoll, of Pennsylvania, and Dunn and Thompson, of Indiana — voted with the South, to lay the resolution on the table. A reconsideration having been moved, the subject was postponed until the roth of January, and on that day Lincoln read a proposed substitute, in the form of a bill, providing that no person not already within the District should be held in slavery therein, and prescribing a process of gradual emancipation there, with compensation to owners voluntarily freeing their slaves; the measure, however, to be conditioned on the assent of the people of the District, by a majority vote, at a special election. The bill also made an excep