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was Salmon P. Chase, of Ohio, to whom was largely attributed the shaping of the platform, and especially its noted phrase, “ freedom national, slavery sectional.” It soon appeared that a large segment of the Democratic party in New York and of the Whig party in Massachusetts, with many from both parties in Ohio and other States, would support this “Free Soil” ticket.
In Congress — Speeches in New England - Meets Mr.
Seward in Boston — Fails to Receive a Federal Appointment - Whig Candidate for Senator.
Congress, remaining in session until nearly the end of summer, gave much of its time to what were properly
campaign speeches.” In this vein Lincoln addressed the House on the 27th of July. “Our Democratic friends,” he began, seem to be in great distress because they think our candidate for the Presidency doesn't suit us;" then proceeded to vindicate the position of General Taylor and to assail that of General Cass, with much banter on the latter's war record; and turned the tables on his opponents, who accused the Whigs of thrusting aside a veteran leader to take up a military hero. It was one of the best examples of the Western stump oratory of that day, though still susceptible of improvement.
In this speech occurs, in an incidental way, the most explicit expression given by him in Congress concerning the cardinal principle of the new Republican party, as yet neither formed nor foreseen. After saying he did not certainly know what General Taylor “would do as to the Wilmot Proviso," he added: “I am a Northern man, or, rather, a Western free-State man, with a
constituency I believe to be, and with personal feelings I know to be, against the extension of slavery. As such, and with what information I have, I hope and believe General Taylor, if elected, would not veto the proviso; but I do not know it. Yet, if I knew he would, I still would vote for him. I should do so, because, in my judgment, his election alone can defeat General Cass; and because, should slavery thereby go into the territory we now have, just so much will certainly happen by the election of Cass; and, in addition, a course of policy leading to new wars, new acquisitions of territory, and still further extensions of slavery.”
Farther on he said, in regard to the Mexican War: But as General Taylor is, par excellence, the hero of the Mexican War, and as you Democrats say we Whigs have always opposed the war, you think it must be very awkward and embarrassing for us to go for General Taylor. The declaration that we have always opposed the war is true or false, according as one may understand the term 'opposing the war.' If to say the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President' be opposing the war, then the Whigs have very generally opposed it. • But if, when the war had begun, and had become the cause of the country, the giving of our money and our blood, in common with yours, was support of the war, then it is not true that we have always opposed the war. With few individual exceptions, you have constantly had our votes here for all the necessary supplies. And, more than this, you have had the services, the blood and the lives of our political brethren in every trial, and on every field.
Clay and Webster each gave a son, never
to be returned. From the State of my own residence, , besides other worthy but less known Whig names, we sent Marshall, Morrison, Baker, and Hardin; they all fought, and one fell, and in the fall of that one we lost our best Whig man. In speaking of this, I mean no odious comparison between the lion-hearted Whigs and Democrats who fought there.... I think of all those brave men as Americans, in whose proud fame, as an American, I, too, have a share. Many of them, Whigs and Democrats, are my constituents and personal friends; and I thank them more than thank them — one and all, for the high, imperishable honor they have conferred on our common State.”
This third and last of his “set speeches” in Congress was listened to with an interest often intense, and its sarcastic passages provoked repeated outbursts of laughter. Such is the testimony of one who was present on this occasion (Mr. C. H. Brainerd), and who has supplied these additional particulars:
The seats in the old Hall of Representatives were arranged in a semi-circle, and divided by narrow aisles, radiating like the spokes of a wheel, from the area which was occupied by the Clerk's desk and the Speaker's chair. Mr. Lincoln's seat was on the outer range, near the western entrance of the hall. His speech was carefully written out on sheets of foolscap paper, and lay before him on his desk. After speaking a few minutes he abandoned his notes and trusted to his memory or the inspiration of the moment. Becoming excited, he commenced walking down the aisle, his right arm extended, and his long, bony forefinger pointing toward the Democratic side of the hall. His left arm was behind him, and supported the skirts of his black dress coat. He seemed almost unconscious of his movement until he
crossed the area, and stood face to face with the members of the opposite side, when he would turn and, quickly walking back to his seat, glance at his manuscript, and then resume his walk. He thus occupied his hour.
In February, John Quincy Adams, a familiar figure in the House for many weeks after Lincoln first took his seat there, had fallen paralyzed in his presence, soon to see “the last of earth.” The Illinois Whig member, to whom the ex-President had been an object of political adoration and a source of inspiration perhaps second only to Henry Clay, was appropriately selected as one of the Congressional delegation to accompany the remains of Adams to their burial place in Massachusetts, directly after the summer adjournment (August 14). It is not strange that after his mission to Quincy was accomplished, he tarried many days in the State. There were national as well as personal reasons for this detention, It was a critical year in politics. A son of the lately deceased ex-President, named for Vice-President by the Van Buren Free Soil party, was expected to withdraw from General Taylor a large share of the anti-slavery Whigs of Massachusetts.
Henry Wilson and his fellow-seceders from the Philadelphia Convention when Clay was beaten, were working with might and main in the confident hope of carrying the State for Van Buren and Adams. Charles Sumner, after years of quietude, with a leaning towards the non-resistance and non-voting abolitionism of Garrison and Phillips, was now beginning to take hold of politics. The year before Sumner had been disposed to urge that Thomas Corwin be taken as the Whig candidate for President, after that Senator's famous Mexi