Page images
PDF
EPUB

prehensive that those men who had been elected as Democrats, though opposed to Judge Douglas, would turn upon some third candidate, of less decided convictions than Judge Trumbull, and possibly elect a Senator who had little or nothing in common with the then inchoate Republican party. To prevent such a consummation, he went personally to his friends, and by strong persuasion, induced them to vote for Trumbull.

[ocr errors]

"He thus secured, by an act of generous self-sacrifice, a triumph for the cause of right, and an advocate of it on the floor of the Senate, not inferior, in earnest zeal for the principles of Republicanism, to any member of that body.

"Some of his friends on the floor of the Legislature wept like children when constrained by Mr. Lincoln's personal appeals to desert him and unite on Trumbull. It is proper to say in this connection, that between Trumbull and Lincoln the most cordial relations have always existed, and that the feeling of envy or rivalry is not to be found in the breast of either.”

At the Peoria debate alluded to above, the arrangement was that Douglas should speak as long as he pleased, then that Lincoln should do the same, and that Douglas should have an hour to close. Douglas commenced at 2 o'clock and spoke till six, wearing away the time in a tedious speech, hoping that the farmers, who had come in from the country, would not stay to hear Mr. Lincoln's reply. As soon as Douglas had concluded his speech, the vast crowd who had patiently listened to him divided, the Democrats at once leaving in great numbers for the country, while the Whigs and Free-Soilers remained and loudly called for Lincoln.

Mr. L., nothing vexed by the consumption by Douglas of the whole afternoon, when no one expected that he would occupy more than an hour and a half or two hours, proposed that the crowd adjourn for tea, which they very reluctantly did. After half an hour the crowd again assembled, and Mr. Lincoln took the stand, and for three hours continued to entrance his hearers by irresistible logic and strains of eloquence never before excelled in any of his public efforts. The whole territorial history of the country was reviewed, and the Kansas-Nebraska bill, then recently passed, was dissected in a manner such as has never been surpassed in the halls of Congress. Never since, in all the discussions, innumerable and interminable, of that subject in the intervening six years, have the inconsistencies of Judge Douglas been shown up as they were then, but all in the utmost good nature. Since then Douglas has invented new subterfuges, but before that audience, all his political tricks and dodges in connection with that bill were thoroughly exposed.

About half-past nine, Douglas rose to take his hour. It was evident he had no heart for the undertaking. He beat a most handsome retreat. He complained of his voice, which he said would not permit of his occupying his hour; he complimented the city of Peoria -the intelligence of its citizens, and the natural beaut of its location, which, of course, brought down cheers for him; he complimented Lincoln; he spoke of the fact that in the cemetery adjacent to the city rested the remains of the lamented Governor Ford-in short, he devoted a quarter of an hour to putting the audience in good humor with him, and then, without at

[ocr errors]

tempting a reply to his antagonist's crushing arguments, bid his audience good night.

Mr. Lincoln expected to meet Mr. Douglas next at Lacon, or Henry, north of Peoria, on the Illinois river; but the "Little Giant" had had enough of "Old Abe" that year, and did not give the latter another opportunity of meeting him during the season.

Mr. Lincoln was offered the nomination for Governor by the Anti-Nebraska (the future Republican) party in 1854; but he told his friends, "No-I am not the man; Bissell will make a better Governor than I, and you can elect him on account of his Democratic antecedents." So, giving to Bissell the flag it was universally desired that he should bear, he himself took the sword, and hewed a way for the triumph of that year.

[ocr errors]

PART THIRD.

THE GREAT SENATORIAL CONTEST.

G

In the summer of 1858, the great Senatorial contest of Illinois took place between Mr. Douglas on the one hand, and Mr. Lincoln on the other. The rebellion of Mr. Douglas in the U. S. Senate against the administration-his refusal to assist in the perpetration of the Lecompton fraud, insured him the enmity of the administration; but in spite of this, his position gave him immense strength both in and outside of Illinois. Prominent Republicans in other States were disposed to see him returned to the Senate as a rebuke to the administration, vainly hoping that Mr. D. would abandon the Democratic party. Mr. Crittenden wrote a letter advising the Americans or old Whigs of Illinois to vote for Douglas, and in consequence of this outside pressure there can be no doubt that Mr. Douglas was stronger by ten thousand votes as a rebel, than he would have been as an administration favorite.

All who know anything at all of Mr. Douglas are aware that as a political debater, either on the stump or on the Senate floor, he has no superior, if he has an equal, in the country. It was, then, no light matter to contest the State of Illinois with such a man as Mr. Douglas, and especially under the circumstances, when the masses of the people sympathized with Mr. D. in his quarrel with the administration.

A Republican State Convention met at Springfield, Illinois, June 2, 1858, and put Mr. Lincoln in nomination as the Republican candidate for United States. Senator. The Convention also adopted the subjoined platform:

THE ILLINOIS PLATFORM.

"We, the Republicans of Illinois, in Convention assembled, in addition to our previous affirmations, make the following declaration of our principles:

"1. We reaffirm our devotion to the Constitution of the country, and to the union of the States, and will steadily resist all attempts for the perversion of the one and the disruption of the other. We recognize the equal rights of all the States, and avow our readiness. and willingness to maintain them; and disclaim all intention of attempting, either directly or indirectly, to assail or abridge the rights of any of the members of the confederacy guaranteed by the Constitution, or in any manner to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. Nevertheless, we hold that the government was instituted for freemen, and that it can be perpetuated, and made to fulfil the purposes of its organization only by devoting itself to the promotion of virtue and intelligence among its citizens, and the advancement of their prosperity and happiness; and to these ends, we hold it to be the duty of the government so to reform the system of disposing of the public lands as to secure the soil to actual settlers, and wrest it from the grasp of men who speculate in the homes of the people, and from corporations that lock it up in dead hands for enhanced profits.

66

2. Free labor being the only true support of republican institutions, our government should maintain its rights; and we therefore demand the improvement of our harbors and rivers which freight the commerce of the West to a market, and the construction of a central

« PreviousContinue »