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cried out “go on, oh! do go on!” None knew who he was, and as he turned to depart, the superintendent inquired his
“ Abraham Lincoln of Illinois," was the answer. Invitations were received by Mr. Lincoln from many places in New England, to speak on political questions. On the fifth of March, he spoke at Hartford, in the city hall, and was escorted to the hall by the first company of “Wide-Awakes” ever organized in the country. This organization became universal throughout the free states, but was intended only for campaign service. He had an immense audience in Hartford, and produced a powerful impression. On the following day he was
a waited upon by a number of prominent citizens, and visited several objects of interest in the city, among which were the armories of Colt and Sharp. On the sixth of March, he spoke at New Haven, at Meriden on the seventh, at Woonsocket, Rhode Island, on the eighth, at Norwich, Connecticut, on the ninth, and at Bridgeport on the tenth. His speaking was always to immense audiences.
Connecticut was that year carried by the republicans by about five hundred majority, against the most powerful efforts of the democrats—a fact which was due more to the speeches of Mr. Lincoln than to any other cause.
Some very interesting reminiscences of this trip were communicated to the public in 1864, by Rev. John P. Gulliver of Norwich, who listened to his address in that city.* On the morning following the speech, he met Mr. Lincoln upon a train of cars, and entered into conversation with him. In speaking of his speech, Mr. Gulliver remarked to Mr. Lincoln that he thought it the most remarkable one he ever heard. “Are you sincere in what you say?" inquired Mr. Lincoln. “I mean every word of it,” replied the minister. “Indeed, sir," he continued, “I learned more of the art of public speaking last evening than I could from a whole course of lectures on rhet, oric.” Then Mr. Lincoln informed him of “a most extraordinary circumstance” that occurred at New Haven a few days previously. A professor of rhetoric in Yale College, he had
• New York Independent of September 1, 1864.
been told, came to hear him, took notes of his speech, and gave a lecture on it to his class the following day; and, not satisfied with that, followed him to Meriden the next evening, and heard him again for the same purpose. All this seemed to Mr. Lincoln to be “very extraordinary.” He had been sufficiently astonished by his success at the West, but he had no expectation of any marked success at the East, particularly among literary and learned men. “Now," said Mr. Lincoln, “I should like very much to know what it was in my speech which you thought so remarkable, and which interested my friend the professor so much?” Mr. Gulliver's answer was: “The clearness of your statements, the unanswerable style of your reasoning, and, especially, your illustrations, which were romance and pathos and fun and logic all welded together."
After Mr. Gulliver had fully satisfied his curiosity by a further exposition of the politician's peculiar power, Mr. Lincoln said, “I am much obliged to you for this. I have been wishing for a long time to find some one who would make this analysis for me. It throws light on a subject which has been dark to me. I can understand very readily how such a power as you have ascribed to me will account for the effect which seems to be produced by my speeches. I hope you have not been too flattering in your estimate. Certainly I have had a most wonderful success for a man of my limited education.” Then Mr. Gulliver inquired into the processes by which he had acquired his education, and was rewarded with many interesting details. When they were about to part, the minister said: “Mr. Lincoln, may I say one thing to you before we separate?” “Certainly; anything you please,”
response. “You have just spoken,” said Mr. Gulliver, “ of the tendency of political life in Washington to debase the moral convictions of our representatives there, by the admixture of considerations of mere political expediency. You have become, by the controversy with Mr. Douglas, one of our leaders in this great struggle with slavery, which is undoubtedly the struggle of the nation and the age. What I would like to say is this, and I say it with a full heart: Be
true to your principles, and we will be true to you, and God will be true to us all.” Mr. Lincoln, touched by the earnestness of his interlocutor, took his hand in both of his own, and, with his face full of sympathetic light, exclaimed: “I say amen to that! amen to that!”
After visiting his son at Harvard College, making many acquaintances among the prominent men of New England, and looking with curious eyes upon New England scenes, and observing with his native shrewdness the characteristics of New England habits and manners, he turned his face homewards, spending a Sabbath in New York while on the way, and again attending Mr. Beecher's church.
One thing, at least, he had learned by this visit: that the people of the older states judge a man by the same rule that prevails on an Illinois prairie—by what he is, and what he can do, and not by the cloth he wears, the knowledge he has acquired, the wealth he possesses, or the blood that flows in his veins. He had been accepted as an honest, fresh, original and powerful man; and he went home gratified. Could he have made his visit longer, and been seen more generally by the people, it would not have been necessary for them to wait so long before knowing how great and good a man the providence of God had given to be their ruler.
The frequent allusions in Mr. Lincoln's speeches to threats of secession on the part of the South, in the event of the success of the republican party, have already shown the reader that secession had become a matter of consideration and discussion among those interested in the perpetuation and nationalization of slavery. It was evident that the southern
. leaders were preparing the minds of their people for some desperate step, and that many of them desired, rather than deprecated, the election of a republican president. Many of them openly said that they should prefer the election of Mr. Seward or Mr. Lincoln to the election of Mr. Douglas, because then they should know exactly what they were to meet. The reason thus given was undoubtedly a fraud. They found themselves in desperate circumstances. All their schemes for the extension of slavery and the reinforcement of the slave power had miscarried. Kansas and California were lost to them. There was no hope for them in Nebraska or any of the new territories. The hope of acquiring Cuba was gone, and the fillibustering operations of Walker which they had patronized were failures. They knew of but one remedy, that which the great mischief-maker of South Carolina had pointed out to them many years before, viz: secession. It is doubtful whether they preferred secession to predominance in the nation, but, basing their policy on the doctrine of "state rights,” their aim was to secede, and either to insist on a permanent separation, or by secession to coerce the government
into the practical acknowledgment of their claims. There is no doubt that it was the policy of the shrewdest of the slaverypropagandists so to manage their party as to secure the election of a republican president. Overpowered in the nation, and hopeless of the future, they looked only for a plausible pretext for precipitating the execution of their scheme; and this could only be found in the election of a president professedly a foe to the extension of slavery.
“The Knights of the Golden Circle” were a band of secret conspirators organized in the interest of treason. The popular political leaders rose to the highest degrees in this order, and knew the whole plot, while the masses, many of whom had no real sympathy with secession, were kept in the dark, ready to be forced into measures that were in cunning and careful preparation. The Christian church of the whole South was the willing slave of this cabal. Preachers proclaimed the divine right of slavery and the doctrines of sedition from the pulpit. The press was an obedient instrument in their hands. There were traitors and plotters in the national government, industriously preparing the way for secession, and sapping the power of the government to prevent it. Mr. Cobb was
. squandering the national finances. Mr. Floyd, the secretary of war, was filling all the southern arsenals with arms at the expense of the government, and sending loyal officers to distant posts; and, although a northern man was at the head of the navy department, it was subsequently found, when ships were wanted, that they were very far from where they were wanted. These southern men, thus plotting, only waited for a pretext for springing their plot upon the people, and of course were not reluctant to make a pretext when opportunity offered.
This was the condition of affairs in the spring of 1860, a year which was to see a new president elected. Everybody felt that a severe political storm was ahead, though comparatively few, either at the North or the South, knew what its character would be. The South blindly followed its leaders, without perfectly knowing whither it was to be led. The North had become accustomed to threats of dissolution of the