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loving husband and father in the world. He gave us all unbounded liberty. ... He was exceedingly indulgent to his children. ... 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 made up his mind.”
Thomas Lincoln, the father, died on the 15th of January, 1851, at Farmington, in Coles County, in the seventy-fourth year of his age. His funeral sermon was preached by Rev. Thomas Goodwin, Campbellite, of Charleston, in that county, who said in 1887, not long before his own death: “In his case I could not say aught but good. He was a consistent member through life of the church of my choice — the Christian Church, or Church of Christ; and was, as far as I knowand I was a very intimate friend — illiterate, yet always truthful, conscientious, and religious.”
The eulogy on Henry Clay pronounced by Lincoln in July, 1852, at Springfield, was not regarded as one of his best efforts, yet at this distance in time parts of it afford glimpses of self-revelation and are otherwise of particular interest. He said that “Mr. Clay's eloquence did not consist, as many fine specimens of eloquence do, of tropes and figures, of antithesis and elegant arrangement of words and sentences, but rather of that deeply earnest and impassioned tone and manner which can proceed only from great sincerity and a thorough conviction in the speaker of the justice and importance of his cause. This it is that truly touches the chords of sympathy; and those who heard Mr. Clay never failed to be moved by it, or ever afterward forgot the impres
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sion. All his efforts were made for practical effect. He never spoke merely to be heard. He never delivered a Fourth-of-July oration, or a eulogy on an occasion like this.” Clay's ruling passion he declared to be a love of liberty and right for their own sakes, and continued:
He ever was on principle and in feeling opposed to slavery. The very earliest, and one of the latest, public efforts of his life, separated by a period of more than fifty years, were both made in favor of gradual emancipation. He did not perceive that on a question of human right the negroes were to be excepted from the human race. And yet Mr. Clay was the owner of slaves. Cast into life when slavery was already widely spread and deeply seated, he did not perceive, as I think no wise man has perceived, how it could be at once eradicated without producing a greater evil even to the cause of human liberty itself. ... Those who would shiver into fragments the union of these State, tear to tatters its now-venerated Constitution, and even burn the last copy of the Bible, rather than slavery should continue a single hour, together with all their more halting sympathizers, have received, and are receiving, their just execration; and the name and opinions and influence of Mr. Clay are fully and, as I trust, effectually and enduringly arrayed against them. But I would also, if I could, array his name, opinions and influence against the opposite extreme — against a few but an increasing number of men who, for the sake of perpetuating slavery, are beginning to assail and to ridicule the white man's charter of freedom, the declaration that “all men are created free and equal."
Some quotations made in this address are specially noteworthy — one, for instance, from Jefferson, including the famous passage relating to the Missouri conflict of 1820: “But this momentous question, like a fire-bell in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed, indeed, for the moment. But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence.” Remember that this was recalled here, in the midst of the canvass of 1852, in which the two great parties had declared Clay's last compromise a “ final settlement.” We may note also, in the same quotation, Jefferson's avowal that the surrender of slave property “would not cost him a second thought if emancipation and expatriation could be effected, and gradually and with due sacrifices, as he thought it might be.” Another quotation was from a speech of Clay himself, in 1827, favoring colonization.
Lincoln's concluding words, whatever their impression on those who heard or read them at the time, will not lack appreciation to-day:
This suggestion of the possible ultimate redemption of the African race and African continent was made twentyfive years ago. Every succeeding year has added strength to the hope of its realization. May it indeed be realized. Pharaoh's country was cursed with plagues, and his hosts were lost in the Red Sea for striving to retain a captive people who had already served them more than four hundred years. May like disasters never befall us!
Our country is prosperous and powerful; but could it have been quite all it has been, and is, and is to be, without Henry Clay ? Such a man the times have demanded, and such in the providence of God was given us. But he is gone. Let us strive to deserve, as far as mortals may, the continued care of divine Providence, trusting that in future national emergencies He will not fail to provide us the instruments of safety and security.
in the Reeady servers never be
In 1853 suit was brought in McLean County for the collection of taxes assessed upon the Illinois Central Railway — a test case, which was to decide the validity of a statute exempting that corporate property from taxation in the several counties through which the railway passes. Lincoln was counsel for the company, and won the case. It was taken up to the State Supreme Court on appeal, twice argued there, and the decision of the lower court affirmed in 1855. The amount directly and indirectly involved, of course, was large. He asked what would now be thought a quite moderate fee, but there was higgling about its payment. If we may trust the recollection of Mr. Herndon, the original accountexclusive of $250 received as a retainer — was for only $2,000; and he further says: “The official to whom he was referred — supposed to have been the Superintendent, George B. McClellan, who afterward 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 can not allow such a claim.'”. Several attorneys with whom Lincoln advised “induced him to increase the demand to $5,000 and to bring suit.” Judgment was given in his favor, and the amount was “promptly paid.”
As to the “ supposed ” official, however, Mr. Herndon gave too free rein to conjecture. An alibi is easily proved for General McClellan, who was in Europe in 1855, and did not retire from the army until 1857, in which year began his connection with the Illinois Central Railway, of which he was at first chief engineer, and afterward vice-president. It was during the time of his official connection with this road that McClellan first knew Lincoln, as stated by the General in his “ Own Story."* On more than one occasion they met at some place on the railway line where Lincoln was attending court; and while the future General does not appear to have been among the most sympathetic admirers of the many anecdotes to which, as he says, he was a listener at such times, these earliest relations were in no degree unfriendly.
** Long before the war, when Vice President of the Illinois Central Railroad Company, I knew Mr. Lincoln, for he was one of the counsel of the company.” (P. 162.) On page 29 of the same work McClellan states that he resigned his “commission as a captain of cavalry in January, 1857."
It was somewhat otherwise with the beginning of Lincoln's acquaintance with Edwin M. Stanton. They first met as associate attorneys in a memorable patent case. Most of Lincoln's Illinois biographers give an erroneous date to this event, * which Mr. Arnold states correctly as in 1855, giving the proper reference to McLean's Reports. The record shows that a bill in chancery, filed by Cyrus H. McCormick, complaining of an infringement of patent by John H. Manny and others, came up for hearing in Chicago at the July term (1855) in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois, before Justice McLean and Judge Drummond. In the taking of testimony, Mr. Manny employed Mr. P. H. Watson (afterward Assistant Secretary of War), a prominent attorney in patent cases, who had intimate relations with Mr. Stanton. The depositions taken were sent to both Lincoln and Stanton, as directed by Mr. Manny, whose extensive manufactory of reapers was at Rockford, Illinois; and both received retainers, with the understanding that they were to prepare to argue the case in court. Another attorney, Mr. George Harding, of Philadelphia, especially skilled in presenting the mechanical details involved in such a suit, was also employed. Mr. Stanton had already an established reputation in this class
*Herndon says 1857; Lamon ("Recollections "), 1858; Stod. dard, 1859; etc.