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No, sir; let it stand as it is. New hands have never touched it. The men who made it have done their work, and have passed away. Who shall improve on what they did?
Mr. Chairman, for the purpose of reviewing this message in the least possible time, as well as for the sake of distinctness, I have analyzed its arguments as well as I could, and reduced them to the propositions I have stated. I have now examined them in detail. I wish to detain the committee only a little while longer, with some general remarks on the subject of improvement. That the subject is a difficult one, cannot be denied. Still, it is no more difficult in Congress than it is in the State legislatures, in the counties, or in the smallest municipal districts which anywhere exist. All can recur to instances of this difficulty in the case of country roads, bridges, and the like. One man is offended because the road passes over his land; another is offended because it does not pass over his; one is dissatisfied because the bridge, for which he is taxed, crosses the river on a different road from that which leads from his house to town; another cannot bear that the county should get in debt for these same roads and bridges; while not a few struggle hard to have roads located over their lands, and then stoutly refuse to let them be opened, until they are first paid the damages. Even between the different wards and streets of towns and cities, we find the same wrangling and difficulty. Now these are no other than the very difficulties against which, and out of which, the President constructs his objections of "inequality," "speculation" and crushing the treasury." There is but a single alternative about them-they are sufficient, or they are not. If sufficient, they are sufficient out of Congress as well as in it, and there is an end. We must reject them as insufficient, or lie down and do nothing by any authority. Then, difficulty though there be, let us meet and overcome it.
"Attempt the end, and never come to doubt;
Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way. The tendency to undue expansion is unquestionably the chief difficulty. How to do something, and still not do too much, is the desideratum. Let each contribute his mite in the way of suggestion. The late Silas Wright, in a letter to the Chicago Convention, contributed his, which was worth somc.
thing; and I now contribute mine, which may be worth nothing. At all events it will mislead nobody, and therefore will do no harm. I would not borrow money. I am against an overwhelming, crushing system. Suppose that at each session Congress shall first determine how much money can, for that year, be spared for improvements; then apportion that sum to the most important objects. So far all is easy; but how shall we determine which are the most important? On this question comes the collision of interests. I shall be slow to acknowledge that your harbor, or your river, is more important than mine, and vice versa. To clear this difficulty, let us have that same statistical information which the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Vinton) suggested at the beginning of this session. In that information we shall have a stern, unbending basis of facts—a basis in no wise subject to whim, caprice, or local interest. pre-limited amount of means will save us from doing too much, and the statistics will save us from doing what we do in wrong places. Adopt and adhere to this course, and, it seems to me, the difficulty is cleared.
One of the gentlemen from South Carolina (Mr. Rhett) very much deprecates these statistics. He particularly objects, as I understand him, to counting all the pigs and chickens in the land. I do not perceive much force in the objection. It is true, that if everything be enumerated, a portion of such statistics may not be very useful to this object. Such products of this country as are to be consumed where they are produced, need no roads and rivers, no means of transportation, and have no very proper connection with this subject. The surplus, that which is produced in one place to be consumed in another; the capacity of each locality to produce a greater surplus; the natural means of transprrtation, and their susceptibility of improvement; the hindrances, delays, and losses of life and property during transportation, and the causes of each, would be among the most valuable statistics in this connection. From these it would readily apper where a given amount of expenditure would do the most good. These statistics might be equally accessible, as they would be equally useful, to both the nation and the States. In this way, and by these means, let the nation take hold of the larger works, and the States the smaller ones, and thus, working in a meeting direction, discreetly, but steadily and firmly, what is made unequal in one
348 LIFE AND SPEECHES OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
place may be equalized in another, extravagance avoided, and the whole country put on that career of prosperity which shall correspond with its extent of territory, its natural resources, and the intelligence and enterprise of its people.
LIFE OF HANNIBAL HAMLIN,
REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR VICE-PRESIDENT.
MR. HAMLIN was born in Paris, county of Oxford, State of Maine, August 27, 1809. His father, Dr. Cyrus Hamlin, was a surgeon and physician, and a native of Massachusetts. He was clerk of the courts for several years, and subsequently sheriff of Oxford county. He was one of the leading influential citizens of his town and county, and died in 1828, aged about fifty-eight years.
Mr. Hamlin's mother was a daughter of Dea. Elijah Livermore, of the town of Livermore, Oxford county, Maine. She was a very estimable lady, and died in 1851, aged about seventy. Mr. Hamlin was fitted for college, but his father dying, he abandoned the idea of a college course, and for a while labored at home upon the old homestead farm. Before commencing the study of law, he worked in a printing office in his native town, and for more than a year conducted the Jeffersonian, since merged in the Oxford Democrat, in connection with the Hon. Horatio King. Subsequently, he studied law with the late Judge Cole, and after completing his course of study, he was admitted to the bar, and removed to Hampden, Maine, where he enjoyed an extensive practice until he voluntarily retired from it. His first entrance into public life was in 1836, when he was elected a representative from the town of Hampden to the Maine legislature. He was re
elected in 1837, 1838, 1839, 1840, and again in 1847. He was speaker of the house of representatives in 1837, 1839, and 1840. In 1840 he was a candidate for Congress, but owing to the great popularity of General Harrison, and the remarkable success of the Whig party in that campaign, he was defeated by a few hundred votes. In 1842 he again run
for Congress, and was elected by a large majority, and in 1844 he was also elected to the same body, by an increased vote. By the death of the lamented Governor Fairfield, a vacancy was created in the United States Senate, and on the 26th of May, 1848, Mr. Hamlin was elected for four years to fill that vacancy.
In July, 1851, he was re-elected to the Senate for six years. In 1856, he was elected Governor of Maine, and resigned his seat in the Senate to assume the duties of the office, January 7, 1857. On the 16th day of the same month, he was elected by both branches of the legislature to the United States Senate for six years, and resigned the office of Governor, February 20, 1857. Until he resigned the position, he was for a long time chairman of the committee on commerce in the Senate.
The above brief sketch of the early life and public services of Mr. Hamlin, while it may be a matter of interest to the American people, is far from being all they inquire after connected with his personal history. Placed as he now is before the people of this great country, as a candidate for the second office in their gift, it is perfectly natural they should desire to know something of his political history and public record.
Mr. Hamlin's antecedents are democratic. On arriving at his majority, he connected himself with the old Democratic party, and acted with that political organization until 1856, when, in a brief and eloquent speech in the Senate, he publicly withdrew from it, and allied himself to the Republican party.
Upon looking over Mr. Hamlin's public record in