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word was good in one particular, let us put a little confidence in "Hell's dread prophet on this assertion of his about Cuba and Mexico. This is a great world, is it not, my friend?
We, the Republicans, out here are comparing hands, seeing how we feel and stand, so that we may go into the "great battle" of 1858-9 in Illinois, between Slavery and Freedom, Douglas and Lincoln, Democracy and Republicanism. It will be a life and death fight, so far as Democracy is concerned. If she goes gurgling down beneath the red waves of slaughter, she is gone forever. Not so with Republicanism; she is young, vital and energetic, and so can survive defeat - yea, frown on it; it will stiffen her backbone, harden her pulpy frame. I will do all I can to hold the leader's hands up! Your friend, W. H. HERNDON.
So matters stood on the eve of the great debates, in which Shiloh was fought at Ottawa and Gettysburg at Freeport. Had Lincoln been a guileless Parsifal in politics, as so many have portrayed him, he could not have saved his party in that critical hour when the voices of expediency, and the advice of friends, pleaded for a lowering of the ideal. Still less could he have met the astute, artful, masterful Douglas, whose resourcefulness was only surpassed by his unctuous and persuasive sophistry. If personal ambition played its part with Lincoln, as it has with all men great and small, far more potent was the ambition to serve the truth as God gave him to see it. Nor did any man ever have a truer partner, a more faithful friend, or a more tireless fellow-worker than Herndon.
The Great Debates
So much has been written of the Lincoln and Douglas debates that the details of the contest are, for the most part, familiar to all. It was indeed a memorable campaign, alike for the importance of the issues involved and for the genius and skill of the debaters-though to the nation at large, as compared with his opponent, Lincoln seemed, in 1858, to emerge suddenly and unexpectedly from a profound obscurity. His later fame has irradiated every detail of his early career; but it was the position of Senator Douglas in national affairs, his revolt from his party, his obvious ambition for the highest honors, together with his power as a debater, that really enchained the attention of the nation. One must needs keep this in mind, so completely has the perspective of time reversed the aspects of the scene.
Scarcely less interesting than the debates themselves were the preliminary meetings, the maneuvering of forces, and the
1 Perhaps the best individual account of the campaign is the chapter contributed by Mr. Horace White to the second edition of the Herndon and Weik biography of Lincoln, in 1892 (Vol. II, Chap. IV). Mr. White was employed as correspondent for the Chicago Tribune, then called the Press and Tribune, and wrote from notes made when he was following the debaters. But for comprehensiveness and vividness of detail, for careful comparison of the texts of the speeches, not less than for newspaper excerpts reproducing the human color and partisan rancor of the contest, The Lincoln-Douglas Debates, edited by E. E. Sparks, and published under the auspices of the Illinois Historical Society, is by far the best portrayal of the campaign. (Collections of the State Historical Library of Illinois, Vol. III, Lincoln Series, Vol. I, 1908.) The speeches are given with all the interruptions, also the songs and slogans of the day, together with editorial fulminations, descriptions by correspondents, local scenes, and the press comment throughout the country — all with admirable discrimination and impartiality.
marshaling of ideas. The Democratic convention, which met in April, was a poltroon assembly, as Herndon described it in his letter to Parker. Though largely attended and very enthusiastic in its speeches, it was lamentably weak in its resolutions, endorsing the course of Douglas, indeed, but expressing not the slightest disapproval of the Buchanan régime. A motion to record regret at the course of the Administration in removing the friends of Douglas from office in the State, was promptly tabled. This was doubtless on the advice of Douglas himself, who wished to avoid open rupture, while leaving the door ajar for a possible reconciliation. Only two offices were at stake-State Treasurer and the Superintendency of Public Instruction- and W. B. Fondy and former Governor French were named for those posts. After which the convention adjourned in a mood of contempt for the bolters, mingled with fear lest the contagion spread.
Of the rump convention of Buchanan henchmen in Springfield on June 9th, little need be said. It was a miserable farce, representing only forty-eight of the one hundred counties in the State, and, as the Chicago Times added, “ Considering that the delegates were self-appointed, and that offices under the federal government were promised to all who would attend, the fact that in fifty-two counties there could not be found men mean enough to participate in the proceedings,' was a tribute to Illinois. Dougherty and Reynolds were named for the offices, and resolutions were adopted denouncing Douglas and characterizing his fight against Buchanan as "an act of overweening conceit." John C. Breckenridge and Daniel S. Dickinson had been announced as speakers, but neither of them appeared. But a telegram was read from Dickinson, sending "a thousand greetings," and this, as the Douglas men said, was surely liberal enough, being about ten to each delegate. Aside from its disclosure of disgustingly dirty methods in politics, including lying, bribery, and underhanded skunkishness, this movement cut very little figure in the campaign.
As the date of the Republican convention approached, Lincoln became solitary and even sad. Knowing that he was to be named as the standard-bearer of his party, and knowing that it was a time of crisis both for himself and his cause, he was much alone with his thoughts, pondering what to do. Herndon knew the moods of his partner - his profound abstraction, his fits of silence and gloom - and he respected them to the utmost. When he saw that long, gaunt figure sitting for hours in the corner of the office, his chair tilted against the wall, his hands clasped about his knees, his head bowed, apparently unconscious of all that was going on, he did not intrude. This time, however, abstraction and melancholy seemed to be blended, and the younger man watched the outcome with solicitude.
Slowly and sadly the thinker reviewed in his mind the history of slavery aggression, beginning with the effort made to denounce the King of Great Britain for establishing slavery in the colonies, which the fathers sought to include in the list of grievances in the Declaration of Independence. Even then there were protests from the South, and that paragraph had to be stricken out. That was the first concession to the Slave Power. Multitudes of concessions had followed through the years, each one granting some special privilege to the Slave States, which had only served to whet their appetites for more. Gradually the feeling that slavery was an evil to be tolerated had given way, for economic reasons, to the feeling that it was a necessary institution to be fostered. All down the years it had rested like a pall upon the republic - present at all disagreements, making a fear and a reservation in all public gatherings, holding the best emotions and the widest patriotism in thrall. At last it had become boldly, insolently, defiantly aggressive, brandishing a threat of disunion whenever its advance was impeded.
With the renewal of the agitation in 1854, almost every variety of opinion had come to exist among the people respecting slavery and the future of the Union; for all divined that
the two were vitally related. Some were for freedom, immediate and universal, regardless of the Union, and some in the same way were for slavery. Others were for the Union, regardless of slavery or freedom; while still others foresaw a Union in which universal freedom, if not a present blessing, would be, at least, an assured, albeit distant, hope and prophecy. This last class, to which Lincoln belonged, held that by restricting the cause of discord the Union might be steered safely between abolitionism and perpetual slavery, to its proper destiny. But the signs of such a destiny were not propitious. By the terms of the Dred Scott decision all barriers had been thrown down, all restraint removed, and it needed but one further decision to make it unlawful for any State to exclude slavery. Whatever others thought, for Lincoln the hour had come to challenge this advance of slavery; and he felt himself to be the man for the hour.
Having thought the problem through from end to end, he began to write, following his curious custom of jotting down notes on bits of paper and depositing them in his hat. He was never a ready writer, like Herndon, least of all on an occasion such as this, when each word had to be carefully weighed in the balances of truth and propriety. Mr. Herndon divined what he was doing, but did not ask any question or make any suggestion. It was his speech accepting the nomination for the Senate; and when he began to transcribe it in orderly form he became more cheerful, but not more communicative. When he had finished the final draft of the speech, he locked the door of the office, drew the curtain across the glass panel in the door, and read it to Herndon, pausing at the end of each paragraph to await comment. Together they discussed the speech, sentence by sentence, though only the first paragraph, including the figure of the house divided against itself, caused any question. Often he had used it in office conversation, but never before in public, except at Bloomington in 1856, when Judge T. Lyle Dickey pronounced it a "d- fool utterance." Remembering that incident, Mr. Herndon remarked: