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hundred of this," Mr. Lincoln had said to his friends before the Freeport debate. He saw further than they. He was "killing larger game" than the senatorship, and he certainly did kill, or assist in killing, Judge Douglas, as a southern candidate for the presidency.
These debates of these two champions, respectively of the principles of the Declaration of Independence and of party policy, were published entire as a campaign document in the republican interest, when Mr. Lincoln was nominated for the presidency, without a word of comment, the people being left to form their own conclusions as to the merits of the controversy, and the relative ability of the men whom it represented.
It is in vain to look for any better presentation of the principles of the republican party, or a better definition of the issues which divided it from the democratic party of the time, than are to be found in these speeches of Mr. Lincoln. They cover the whole ground. They are clear, sound, logical, powerful and exhaustive; and, in connection with two or three speeches made afterwards in Ohio and New York, form the chief material on which his reputation as an orator and a debater must rest. The man who shall write the story of the great rebellion on behalf of human slavery must go back to these masterly speeches of an Illinois lawyer to find the clearest and most complete statement of those differences between the power of slavery and the spirit of freedom-the policy of slavery and the policy of freedom-which ended, after expenditures of uncounted treasure and unmeasured blood, in the final overthrow of the accursed institution.
Mr. Lincoln was beaten in his contest for the seat of Mr. Douglas in the Senate, in consequence of the unfair apportionment of the legislative districts. When it came to a ballot in the legislature, it was found that there were fourteen democrats to eleven republicans in the Senate, and forty democrats to thirty-five republicans in the House. This re-instated Mr. Douglas; and the champion of the republican party was defeated after a contest fought by him with wonderful power and persistence, with unfailing fairness, good nature and mag
nanimity, and with a skill rarely if ever surpassed. He had visited every part of the state, made about sixty speeches, been received by the people everywhere with unbounded enthusiasm, had grown strong with every day's exercise, was conscious that he had worsted his antagonist in the intellectual struggle, and, when defeat came, he could not have been otherwise than disappointed. On being asked by a friend how he felt when the returns came in that insured his defeat, he replied that he felt, he supposed, very much like the stripling who had bruised his toe-"too badly to laugh and too big to cry." But the battle of 1860 was indeed worth a hundred of that, and to it, events will swiftly lead us.
THE winter of 1858 and 1859 found Mr. Lincoln at leisure. His absorption in political pursuits had materially interfered with his professional business, although he retained all that he had the disposition to attend to. At this point occurred one of those strange diversions that were so characteristic of the man. He sat down and wrote, in the form of a lecture, a comprehensive history of inventions, beginning with the handiwork in brass and iron of Tubal Cain, and ending with the latest products of inventive art. This lecture he delivered at Springfield, and, in a single instance, in another city, but there the public delivery of it ceased. Whether he undertook this to detach his mind from subjects which had held it so long, or whether he did it to be able to meet the invitations. that came to him from many quarters to address the winter lyceums, does not appear. The effort does not seem to have been a satisfactory one to himself, and it is easy to see that it was not likely to be particularly attractive to the lecture-going public. Reading lectures and delivering stump speeches are very different styles of effort; and the most effective political orators often surprise themselves as much as they do their audiences by their dryness and dreariness upon the platform of the lecturer. The facts of the matter are principally interesting as showing the natural drift of Mr. Lincoln's mind when diverted from professional and political pursuits.
This diversion was only temporary. Mr. Lincoln had become a political man. Whatever may have been his inclina
tions at this time, he felt that he was in the hands of the party to which he had just given the ripest and best efforts of his life. He was a representative man, and was already regarded by the great masses of the new party at the West as their best man for the next presidential campaign. His senatorial contest had done much to make his name known to the politicians of the nation. Political men everywhere had read his masterly debates with Senator Douglas, and had given him his position among the best politicians and most notable political orators of the time. While this is true, it is also true that east of the Alleghanies he was not much known among the people. He had not been much in public office; and his field of action and influence was so distant that they had heard but little about him. If they had been told that within two years Abraham Lincoln would be elected president of the United States, three out of every four would have inquired who Abraham Lincoln was. At the West all was different. erybody knew "Old Abe." He was the people's friendthe man of the people-the champion of freedom and free labor-the man who had beaten the "little giant" in the popular vote of the democratic state of Illinois. His peculiarities were as well known to the people of the West as if he had been the member of every man's family. To look upon him was to look upon a lion. To shake hands with him or to hear him speak, was a great privilege—a subject of self-gratulation or neighborly boasting.
On the 17th of May, 1859, we find Mr. Lincoln answering a letter addressed to him by Dr. Theodor Canisius, a German citizen of Illinois, who, with an eye to the future, inquired concerning Mr. Lincoln's views of the constitutional provision recently adopted in Massachusetts, in relation to naturalized citizens, and whether he opposed or favored a fusion of the republicans and other opposition elements in the approaching campaign of 1860. Mr. Lincoln replied that, while he had no right to advise the sovereign and independent state of Massachusetts, concerning her policy, he would say that so far as he understood the provision she had consummated, he
was against its adoption in Illinois, and in every other place where he had a right to oppose it. "As I understand the spirit of our institutions," said Mr. Lincoln, "it is designed to promote the elevation of men. I am, therefore, hostile to anything that tends to their debasement. It is well known that I deplore the depressed condition of the blacks, and it would, therefore, be very inconsistent for me to look with approval upon any measure that infringes upon the inalienable rights of white men, whether or not they are born in another land, or speak a different language from our own." As to the inquiry touching the fusion of all the opposition elements, he was in favor of it, if it could be done on republican principles, and upon no other condition. "A fusion upon any other platform," the letter proceeds, "would be as insane as unprincipled. It would thereby lose the whole North, while the common enemy would still have the support of the entire South. The question in relation to men is different. There are good and patriotic men and able statesmen in the South whom I would willingly support, if they would place themselves on republican ground; but I shall oppose the lowering of the republican standard even by a hair's breadth."
It is to be remembered in this connection that Massachusetts was a representative republican state, and, regarding the ignorant foreign population, particularly of the eastern states, as holding the balance of power between the democratic and republican parties, which it never failed to exercise in the interest of the former and in the support of African slavery, had instituted measures which rendered naturalization a more difficult process. This embarrassed the republicans of the West, who were associated with a large and generally intelligent German population, with leanings toward the republican party rather than to the democratic. Hence this letter to Mr. Lincoln and his reply, which latter undoubtedly had its office in shaping public opinion, and in bringing the foreign population of the West into hearty sympathy with Mr. Lincoln himself.
It was during this year that the movement for making Mr.