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of the county here on last Monday, to appoint delegates to a
It was Mr. Lincoln's rule and habit to “support the nominee.” He was always a loyal party man. In the ordinary use of the word, Mr. Lincoln was not, and never became, a reformer. He believed that a man, in order to effect anything, should work through organizations of men. In a eulogy upon Henry Clay which he delivered in 1852, occurs the following passage: “A free people, in times of peace and quiet, when pressed by no common danger, naturally divide into parties. At such times, the man who is not of either party, is not, cannot be, of any consequence.
Mr. Clay, therefore, was of a party.” Whether his position was sound or otherwise, he believed it was, and always acted upon it. With as true a love of freedom and progress as any manwith a regard for popular rights never surpassed by professional reformers—he was careful to go no faster, and no farther, than he could take his party with him, and no faster and no farther than was consistent with that party's permanent suc
He would endanger nothing by precipitancy. His policy was to advance surely, even if he was obliged to proceed slowly. The policy which distinguished his presidential career was the policy of his life. It was adopted early, and he always followed it.
With Mr. Lincoln's modest estimate of his own services,
* Colonel Edward D. Baker, (afterwards United States Senator from Oregon) who fell at Ball's Bluff.
| Colonel Johu J. Hardin, who fell at Buena Vista.
and with his friendly feelings toward all, it is not to be wondered at that he never made much money. It was not possible for him to regard his clients simply in the light of business. An unfortunate man was a subject of his sympathy, no matter what his business relations to him might be. A Mr. Cogdal, who related the incident to the writer, met with a financial wreck in 1843. He employed Mr. Lincoln as his lawyer, and at the close of the business, gave him a note to cover the regular lawyer's fees. He was soon afterwards blown up by an accidental discharge of powder, and lost his hand. Meeting Mr. Lincoln some time after the accident, on the steps of the State House, the kind lawyer asked him how he was getting along. “Badly enough,” replied Mr. Cogdal, “I am both broken up in business, and crippled.” Then he added, “I have been thinking about that note of yours.” Mr. Lincoln, who had probably known all about Mr. Cogdal’s troubles, and had prepared himself for the meeting, took out his pocket-book, and saying with a laugh, “well, you needn't think any more about it,” handed him the note. Mr. Cogdal protesting, Mr. Lincoln said “if you had the money, I would not take it," and hurried
, away. At this same date, he was frankly writing about his poverty to his friends, as a reason for not making them a visit, and probably found it no easy task to take care of his family, even when board at the Globe Tavern was “only four dollars a week.”
In the active discharge of the duties of his profession, in the enjoyments of his new domestic life, and in the intrigues of local politics, as betrayed in his letter to Mr. Speed, the months passed away, and brought Mr. Lincoln to the great political contest of 1844. Henry Clay, his political idol was the candidate of the whig party for the presidency, and he went into the canvass with his whole heart. As a candidate for presidential elector, he canvassed the state of Illinois, and afterwards went over into Indiana, and made a series of speeches there. The result of this great campaign to Mr. Clay and to the whig party was a sad disappointment. Probably no defeat of a great party ever brought to its members so
much personal sorrow as this. Mr. Clay had the power of exciting an enthusiastic affection for his person that few political men have enjoyed. The women of the country were as much interested in his election as their brothers and husbands were, and wept at his defeat as if he had been their best and most intimate friend. Mr. Lincoln was among the heartiest of these mourners; but, while the event rendered his great political exemplar a hopeless man politically, the canvass itself had raised Mr. Lincoln to the proudest hight he had occupied. He had greatly strengthened the whig organization in the state, and had established his reputation as one of the most powerful political debaters in the country. His exposition of the protective system of duties, which was the principal issue of the canvass, was elaborate and powerful. He had thoroughly mastered his subject, and his arguments are still remembered for the copiousness of their facts, and the closeness and soundness of their logic.
Mr. Clay's defeat was the more a matter of sorrow with Mr. Lincoln because it was, in a measure, unexpected. No personal defeat could have been more dispiriting to him than this failure before the people of his political idol. He was not only disappointed but disgusted. With his strong convictions of the soundness of the principles of the whig party, and his belief in the almost immeasurable superiority of Mr. Clay over Mr. Polk, he doubtless had the same misgivings that have come to others, touching the capacity of the people for self-government, and realized the same distrust of the value of honors which could be so unworthily bestowed. It was to him a popular decision in the cause of political iniquity and bad government. It was not strange, therefore, in the first gush of his disappointment, that he made a new resolution to let politics alone, and attend more devotedly to the duties of his profession. But Mr. Lincoln's ambition, and Mr. Lincoln's friends, more powerful than his ambition, were not likely to permit this resolution to have a permanent influence upon
his career. Subsequently, Mr. Lincoln paid a personal visit to Mr.
Clay, and it is possible that he needed the influence of this visit to restore a healthy tone to his feelings, and to teach him that the person whom his imagination had transformed into a demigod was only a man, possessing the full measure of weaknesses common to men. In 1846, Mr. Lincoln learned that Mr. Clay had agreed to deliver a speech at Lexington, Kentucky, in favor of gradual emancipation. He had never seen the great Kentuckian, and this event seemed to give him an excuse for breaking away from his business, and satisfying his curiosity to look his demigod in the face, and hear the music of his eloquence. He accordingly went to Lexington, and arrived there in time to attend the meeting.
On returning to his home from this visit, he did not attempt to disguise his disappointment. The speech itself was written and read. It lacked entirely the spontaneity and fire which Mr. Lincoln had anticipated, and was not eloquent at all. At the close of the meeting Mr. Lincoln secured an introduction to the great orator, and as Mr. Clay knew what a friend to him
a Mr. Lincoln had been, he invited his admirer and partisan to Ashland. No invitation could have delighted Mr. Lincoln more, but the result of his private interview with Mr. Clay was no more satisfactory than that which followed the speech. Those who have known both men, will not wonder at this, for two men could hardly be more unlike in their motives and manners than the two thus brought together. One was a proud man; the other was a humble man. One was princely in his bearing; the other was lowly. One was distant and dignified; the other was as simple and teachable as a child. One received the deference of men as his due; the other received it with an uncomfortable sense of his unworthiness.
A friend of Mr. Lincoln, who had a long conversation with him after his return from Ashland, found that his old enthusiasm was gone. Mr. Lincoln said that though Mr. Clay was most polished in his manners, and very hospitable, he betrayed a consciousness of superiority that none could mistake. He felt that Mr. Clay did not regard him, or any other person in his presence, as, in any sense, on an equality with him. In
short, he thought that Mr. Clay was overbearing and domineering, and that, while he was apparently kind, it was in that magnificent and patronizing way which made a sensitive man uncomfortable.
It is quite possible that Mr. Lincoln needed to experience this disappointment, and to be taught this lesson. It was, perhaps, the only instance in his life in which he had given his whole heart to a man without knowing him, or been carried away by his imagination into an unbounded zeal on behalf of a personal stranger. It made him more cautious in the bestowal of his love. He was, certainly, from that time forward, more careful to look on all sides of a man, and on all sides of a subject, before yielding to either his devotion, than ever before. If he became slow in moving, it was because he saw more than his own side of every case and question, and recognized, in advance, such obstacles as would be certain to impede
Much has been said of Mr. Lincoln's kindness, and many suppose that he was not brave—that his patient and universal love of men was inconsistent with those sterner qualities which are necessary to make, not only a true hero, but a true man. An incident occurred during the Clay campaign which shows how ill-founded this estimate of Mr. Lincoln is. On the occasion of a great mass convention at Springfield, U. F. Linder, Esq., now a resident of Chicago, and a man of rare eloquence, made a speech which seemed to rouse the enthusiasm of the assemblage to the highest pitch. The speech was very offensive to some of the democrats who were present-who, indeed, proposed to make a personal matter of it. Mr. Linder being called out again, in the course of the meeting, was considered in personal danger, if he should attempt to respond. At this juncture, Mr. Lincoln and Colonel Baker took their places by his side, and, when he finished, conducted him to his hotel. The ruffians knew both men, and prudently refrained from interfering with them. On a previous occasion, Mr. Lincoln
. had protected the person of Colonel Baker himself. Baker was speaking in a court-house, which had once been a store