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ber that Mr. Lincoln, when elected to the presidency, called to the first place in his cabinet the man whom the convention had set aside, and that the country had the advantage of his wise counsels throughout the darkest period and most difficult passage of its history.
As has been stated, the city of Chicago was wild with delight. One hundred guns were fired from the top of the Tremont House. Decorated and illuminated rails were around the newspaper offices. All the bars and drinking halls were crowded with men who were either worn out with excitement or mad with delight. From Chicago the news spread over the country, and the cannon's throat responded to the click of the telegraph from Maine to the Mississippi. The outgoing trains that night found bonfires blazing at every village, and excited crowds assembled to cheer the retiring delegates, most of whom were either too weak or too hoarse to respond.
In the little city of Springfield, in the heart of Illinois, two hundred miles from where those exciting events were in progress, sat Abraham Lincoln, in close and constant telegraphic communication with his friends in Chicago. He was apprised of the results of every ballot, and, with his home friends, sat in the Journal office receiving and commenting upon the dispatches. It was one of the decisive moments of his life-a moment on which hung his fate as a public man-his place in history. He fully appreciated the momentous results of the convention to himself and the nation, and foresaw the nature of the great struggle which his nomination and election would inaugurate. A moment, and he knew that he would either become the central man of a nation, or a cast-off politician whose ambition for the nation's highest honors would be for ever blasted. At last, in the midst of intense and painful excitement, a messenger from the telegraph office entered with the decisive dispatch in his hand. Without handing it to any one, he took his way solemnly to the side of Mr. Lincoln, and said: "the convention has made a nomination, and Mr. Seward is the second man on the list.” Then he jumped upon the editorial table and shouted, “gentlemen, I propose three
cheers for Abraham Lincoln, the next President of the United States;" and the call was boisterously responded to. He then handed the dispatch to Mr. Lincoln who read in silence, and then aloud, its contents. After the excitement had in a measure passed away from the little assembly, Mr. Lincoln rose, and remarking that there was “a little woman" on Eighth street who had some interest in the matter, pocketed the telegram and walked home.
As soon as the news reached Springfield, the citizens who had a personal affection for Mr. Lincoln which amounted almost to idolatry, responded with a hundred guns, and during the afternoon thronged his house to tender their congratulations and express their joy. In the evening, the State House was thrown open, and a most enthusiastic meeting held by the republicans. At its close, they marched in a body to the Lincoln mansion, and called for the nominee. Mr. Lincoln appeared, and after a brief, modest and hearty speech, invited as many as could get into the house to enter, the crowd responding that after the fourth of March they would give him a larger house. The people did not retire until a late hour, and then moved off reluctantly, leaving the excited household to their rest.
On the following day, which was Saturday, Mr. Ashmun, the president of the convention, at the head of a committee, visited Springfield to apprise Mr. Lincoln officially of his nomination. In order that the ceremony might be smoothly performed, the committee had an interview with Mr. Lincoln before the hour appointed for the formal call. They found him at a loss to know how to treat a present he had just received at the hands of some of his considerate Springfield friends. Knowing Mr. Lincoln's temperate or rather abstinent habits, and laboring under the impression that the visitors from Chicago would have wants beyond the power of cold water to satisfy, these friends had sent in sundry hampers of wines and liquors. These strange fluids troubled Mr. Lincoln; and he frankly confessed as much to the members of the committee. The chairman at once advised him to return the gift, and to offer no stimulants to his guests, as many would be present besides the committee. Thus relieved, he made ready for the reception of the company, according to his own ideas of hospitality. The evening came, and with it Mr. Ashmun and the committee and many others. Mr. Ashmun on being presented said:
"I have, sir, the honor, on behalf of the gentlemen who are presenta committee appointed by the republican convention recently assembled at Chicago-to discharge a most pleasant duty. We have come, sir, under a vote of instructions to that committee, to notify you that you have been selected by the convention of the republicans at Chicago for President of the United States. They instruct us, sir, to notify you of that selection; and that committee deem, it not only respectful to yourself, but appropriate to the important matter which they have in hand, that they should come in person, and present to you the authentic evidence of the action of that convention; and, sir, without any phrase which shall either be personally plauditory to yourself, or which shall have any reference to the principles involved in the questions which are connected with your nomination, I desire to present to you the letter which has been prepared, and which informs you of your nomination, and with it the platform, resolutions and sentiments which the convention adopted. Sir, at your convenience, we shall be glad to receive from you such a response as it may be your pleasure to give us.”
Mr. Lincoln listened to the address with sad gravity. There was in his heart no exultation-no elation--only the pressure of a new and great responsibility. He paused thoughtfully for a moment, and then replied:
“Mr. Chairman, and Gentlemen of the Committee: I tender to you, and through you to the republican national convention, and all the people represented in it, my profoundest thanks for the high honor done me, which you now formally announce. Deeply and even painfully sensible of the great responsibility which is inseparable from this high honor-a responsibility which I could almost wish had fallen upon some one of the far more eminent and experienced statesmen whose distinguished names were before the convention—I shall, by your leave, consider more fully the resolutions of the convention denominated the platform, and, without any unnecessary or unreasonable delay, respond to you, Mr. Chairman, in writing, not doubting that the platform will be found satisfactory, and the nomination gratefully accepted. And now I will no longer defer the pleasure of taking you, and each of you, by the hand.”
Judge Kelly of Pennsylvania, one of the committee, and a very tall man, looked at Mr. Lincoln, up and down, before it came his turn to take his hand, a scrutiny that had not escaped Mr. Lincoln's quick eye. So, when he took the hand of the Judge, he inquired: “what is your hight?” “six feet three,” replied the Judge. “What is yours, Mr. Lincoln ?” “Six feet four,” responded Mr. Lincoln. “Then, sir,” said the Judge, “Pennsylvania bows to Illinois. My dear man," he continued, “for years my heart has been aching for a president that I could look up to; and I've found him at last, in the land where we thought there were none but little giants."
The evening passed quickly away, and the committee retired with a very pleasant impression of the man in whose hands they had placed the standard of the party for a great and decisive campaign. Mr. Ashmun met the nominee as an old friend, with whom he had acted in Congress, when both were members of the old whig party; and the interview between them was one of peculiar interest.
It is a strange coincidence that the man who received Mr. Lincoln's first spoken and written utterance as the standard bearer of the republican party, received the last word he ever wrote as President of the United States.
On the twenty-third of June, which occurred on the following week, Mr. Lincoln responded to the letter which Mr. Ashmun presented him as follows:
“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 and sentiments 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, harmony and prosperity of all, I am most happy to co-operate for the practical success of the principles declared by the convention. Your obliged friend and fellow-citizen,
" ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 6 Hon. GEORGE ASAMUN."
Thus was Abraham Lincoln placed before the nation as a candidate for the highest honor in its power to bestow. It had been a long and tedious passage to this point in his history. He was in the fifty-second year of his age.
He had spent half of his years in what was literally a wilderness. Born in the humblest and remotest obscurity, subjected to the rudest toil in the meanest offices, gathering his acquisitions from the scantiest sources, achieving the development of his powers by means of his own institution, he had, with none of the tricks of the demagogue, with none of the aids of wealth and social influence, with none of the opportunities for exhibiting his powers which high official position bestows, against all the combinations of genius and eminence and interest, raised himself by force of manly excellence of heart and brain into national recognition, and had become the focal center of the affectionate interest and curious inquisition of thirty millions of people at home, and of multitudes throughout the civilized world.