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The debate closed at the place where, a few months after Lincoln's anti-slavery protest was entered on the Assembly journal at Vandalia, Elijah P. Lovejoy came to a violent death for his hatred of slavery. When the two competitors stepped down from the stand and went their ways, two weeks remained before the decisive vote. Douglas received a small but sufficient majority of the Legislature and a re-election. Lincoln had in the entire popular vote a majority of about four thousand.
1859 - 1860.
On the Verge of a New Epoch — Letters and Addresses — Incidents and Portents — John Brown at Har
per's Ferry — Chaos in Congress.
We know little of what was passing through Lincoln's mind during the autumn and winter following the great Senatorial contest. Now as ever his reserve had depths which none of his friends could sound, but of matters at the surface he spoke with frankness and freedom. To Mr. Judd he wrote on the 15th of November: “Doubtless you have suspected for some time that I had entertained a personal wish for a term in the United States Senate, and had the suspicion taken the shape of a direct charge, I think I could not have truthfully denied it. But let the past as nothing be! For the future, my view is that the fight must go on. ... We have now one hundred and twenty-four thousand clean Republican votes. That 'pile’ is worth keeping together. It will elect a State ticket two years hence. In that day I shall fight in the ranks, and shall be in no one's way for any of the places.”
Lincoln was again busy in the courts. He had law cases in the year 1859 in Missouri, Wisconsin and Indiana, besides the many in his own State. There may have been to his mind a touch of humor — a certain pathos also — in the fact that, besides professional calls,
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he had a number of invitations to lecture. He actually prepared a discourse on “ Discoveries and Inventions,” with which he filled three appointments in February and March. Aiming at a more lively and “rattling” style than he was accustomed to in his political speeches, he was less natural and less successful on the platform than on the stump.
The city election in Chicago, on the ist of March, was carried by the Republicans. Lincoln was there, and spoke briefly after the result was known, the same night. “I am exceedingly happy," he said, “ to meet you under such cheering auspices on this occasion — the first on which I have appeared before an audience since the campaign last year.” He returned thanks for the gallant support that the Republicans of Chicago and of the State had given to the common cause in the late “momentous struggle in Illinois.” Continuing, he said:
I remember in that canvass but one instance of dissatisfaction with my course, and I allude to that now not for the purpose of producing any unpleasant feeling, but in order to help get rid of the point upon which that matter of disagreement or dissatisfaction arose. I understand that in some speeches I made I said something, or was supposed to have said something, that some very good people, as I really believe them to be, commented upon unfavorably, and said that rather than support one holding such sentiments as I had expressed, the real friends of liberty could afford to wait a while. I don't want to say anything that shall excite unkind feeling, and I mention this simply to say that I am afraid of the effect of that sort of argument. I do not doubt that it comes from good men, but I am afraid of the result upon organized action when great results are in view. if any of us allow ourselves to seek out minor points on which there may be a difference of views as to policy and, right, and let them keep us from uniting in action upon a great principle in a cause on which we all agree.
Immediately after the November election there had been in the press of Illinois, and in private correspondence, suggestions of his nomination for the Presidency. This possibility was seen by many thinking men more clearly than the managers of political conventions were generally aware. The fact is discernible, though not directly suggested, in the invitation he received to attend a commemoration of Jefferson's birthday at Boston. He replied (April 6, 1859):
Your kind note, inviting me to attend a festival in Boston on the 13th inst., in honor of the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, was duly received. My engagements are such that I can not attend.
Bearing in mind that about seventy years ago two great political parties were first formed in this country; that Thomas Jefferson was the head of one of them and Boston the headquarters of the other, it is both curious and interesting that those supposed to descend politically from the party opposed to Jefferson should now be celebrating his birthday in their own original seat of empire, while those claiming political descent from him have nearly ceased to breathe his name everywhere.
Remembering, too, that the Jefferson party was formed upon its supposed superior devotion to the personal rights of men, holding the rights of property to be secondary only, and greatly inferior, and then assuming that the so-called Democracy of to-day are the Jefferson, and their opponents the anti-Jefferson parties, it will be equally interesting to note how completely the two have changed hands as to the principles upon which they were originally supposed to be divided.
The Democracy of to-day hold the liberty of one man to be absolutely nothing when in conflict with another man's right of property. Republicans, on the contrary, are for the man and the dollar, but, in case of conflict, the man before the dollar.
I remember being once much amused at seeing two partially intoxicated men engage in a fight with their greatcoats on, which fight, after a long and rather harmless contest, ended in each having fought himself out of his own coat and into that of the other. If the two leading parties of this day are really identical with the two in the days of Jefferson and Adams, they have performed the same feat as the two drunken men.
But, soberly, it is now no child's play to save the principles of Jefferson from total overthrow in this nation.
One would state with great confidence that he could convince any sane child that the simpler propositions of Euclid are true; but, nevertheless, he would fail, utterly, with one who should deny the definitions and axioms. The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of free society. And yet they are denied and evaded, with no small show of success. One dashingly calls them “glittering generalities ;" another bluntly calls them “self-evident lies;" and others insidiously argue that they apply only to “superior races.”
These expressions, differing in form, are identical in object and effect, — the supplanting the principles of free government, and restoring those of classification, caste and legitimacy. They would delight a convocation of crowned heads plotting against the people. They are the vanguard - the miners and sappers — of returning despotism. We must repulse them or they will subjugate us. . This is a world of compensations, and he who would be no slave must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, can not long retain it.
All honor to Jefferson — to the men who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there that to-day and in all coming days it shall be a rebuke and a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.*
*For an authoritative copy of this letter (published by the Boston press at the time) the writer was indebted to the late Hon. Henry L. Pierce, Chairman of the committee addressed-at one time Mayor of Boston and Member of Congress.