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democratic hut, menacing its prosperity, its virtue, and the precious promise it holds. Slavery joins issue with the democratic idea in Kentucky, and threatens utterly to overwhelm it. But the times are not yet ripe for the great struggle: the hero is still a boy; the strength and integrity that his honest parentage and home have given him must be saved from contamination. The drama is just beginning. Not prematurely must the crisis be developed. The parents, indeed, do not thus reason with conscious reference to the future; but the genius of the republic is jealously guarding its hero. The prophetic Spirit of Truth, sitting calm behind the scenes, will not permit the whole future to be changed and robbed at this dangerous point. The little spot of land, which slavery was already beginning to envelop and impoverish, is sold, the rude home is abandoned; the parents escape from the snares and dangers of slaveholding Kentucky, and seek across the Ohio, still farther in the wilderness, a new home, but on free soil.

And now still further is our hero trained for the stern tasks of democratic sovereignty before him. It seems as if he must understand every atom of that sovereignty by going through the condition of every individual constituent of it, before he can be ready to assume it in his own person for the great ends designed. Hence he must exhaust every democratic occupation from the most menial to the most honored. He is a pioneer, and day after day, with sturdy blows, cuts a way through the forest to

his home and to the land that is to feed him. He is a farmer, and by the sweat of his brow gathers his daily bread from the soil. He is a mechanic, and helps build the family house and its furniture. He is a famous rail-splitter, and fences the farm with his own hands. He is a flatboatman down the Mississippi. He is a clerk in a store. He is a militia captain, and has a little touch of war in the Indian troubles of the frontier. He sets up in business by himself as a country trader; he is postmaster, land surveyor, and finally lawyer and legislator.

And all this time, too, he is gathering knowledge,— not in schools and colleges and lyceums and public libraries, but out among the Western forests and prairies, gleaning from nature, from life, and from the few books to be found among his scattered neighbors or bought with hard-earned savings, laboring over his books in solitude by his democratic fireside, with his solitary democratic brain,- gathering knowledge, not to veneer over weakness and poverty of capacity, not enough even to cover and conceal the rugged fibre and homely solidity of the native stuff from which his being is made. All his knowledge is perfectly assimilated and used by his nature; for this man, born out of the loins of pure democracy, and destined to be the leader of American democracy in a deadly contest for national existence and to die its martyr, must be purely American and democratic through every nerve and fibre and pulse of his being.

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But again the scene changes. The great struggle between democracy and despotism is approaching. The hosts are preparing on either side for the combat, and the destined leader of freedom must come forth into the public arena. Already in Congress he had voted steadily for freedom and equality in the national Territories, and even at that early day had tried to make the national capital free soil. But now the contest had thickened, and the smell of blood was already in the land. The virgin soil of Kansas was the prize. Should it be polluted and ruined by the demon of slavery, or given in pure wedlock to freedom? The plot against democracy begins to unfold its horrors: the 'coming man" must now come. Unavoidably he is drawn from his retirement into the political field; and, although several years have yet to pass before he is hailed as leader, his powerful sword can never be sheathed again.

In the contest concerning Kansas, and in the famous Senatorial campaign with Stephen A. Douglas, which grew out of the Kansas conflict, it is remarkable how sharply the lines were drawn between freedom and slavery, how the debates constantly turned on this one point, and how radical and thorough Mr. Lincoln's utterances always were as the chosen champion of liberty. It is to be noticed, too, how he uniformly planted himself on the broad ground of the Declaration of Independence, that is, of free and equal government for all classes and races; and he attacked slavery, be


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cause slavery attacked this invincibly true and fundamental principle of the republic.

And at this point in the development of this dramatic history we come to a very important and rarely noticed fact, the key of the wonderful drama. Abraham Lincoln was the first politician or statesman who publicly proclaimed the doctrine of the "irrepressible conflict" of ideas between the South and the North. This he did on the 17th of June, the anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill, 1858, in a speech to the State Convention of Illinois, which nominated him for Senator against Douglas. That speech opened almost with the words now become so famous and familiar: “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 one thing or all the other." And this was the beginning of that noted Senatorial campaign which was but preliminary to the Presidential campaign. It was the striking of the key-note of this great American contest: it was the clarion voice of the true, destined leader, summoning the hosts of freedom to his standard. For, mark you again, this was the first political utterance of the doctrine of the irrepressible conflict between freedom and slavery, declaring that one of the antagonists, even in the domain of the States, must yield before the other. The moral reform

ers the abolitionists had declared it; but no statesman or leading politician proclaimed it before Abraham Lincoln. It was he that first took up and ingrafted upon the politics of the country the moral ideas of the abolition reformers. He made this remarkable speech several months before Mr. Seward took the same idea, clothed it in philosophic shape, and christened it by the name of "irrepressible conflict."

Can we longer wonder that Abraham Lincoln should be the chosen leader of the hosts of democracy and freedom, when this conflict comes to arms? that he, the first statesman who announced the divine necessity of the moral conflict, should be summoned to represent divine justice in the martial struggle, and to give thereto the costly testimony of his life? Not otherwise could the drama preserve its unity. Blind fate, destiny, could have made no other choice. Shall Providence be less wise than destiny? Shall the prophetic, preparing, managing Spirit be balked of its purpose? Shall a mighty national contest, involving national existence and the virtue and happiness of millions of human beings, be subject to accident? its sublime end postponed or thwarted by some political marplot? No! Providence is as grandly steady as destiny or fate; and not more inevitably, in the old Greek tragedy, did the fateimpelled hero, at the proper moment, come upon the stage than did Abraham Lincoln, in the dramatic ripeness of events, assume the political

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