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by, do you remember what I told you about Friend Greeley, that is, that the Republican platform was too "hifalutin," too abstract, in his opinion, and that it ought to be lowered -"slid down?" What is now unfortunately taking place? I fear the Republican platform will get deeper in the hell" direction than the old Whig platform for measures. I hope you will continue to remember my conversation with you, not because I said it, but because what was said was uttered by greater men. I always tell you the truth dodge.
If you remember, our State is a peculiar one politically: first, we have a north which is all intelligence, all for freedom. Secondly, we have a South, people from the sand hills of the South, poor white folks. These are pro-slavery and ignorant "up to the hub." up to the hub." And thirdly, we have a belt of land, seventy-five miles in width, running from the east bank of the Mississippi to the Wabash - to Indiana; and running north and south, from Bloomington to Alton. In or upon this strip or belt of land this " great battle" between Lincoln and Douglas is to be fought and victory won. On this belt are three classes of individuals: first, Yankees; secondly, intelligent Southerners; and thirdly, poor whites. I now speak sectionally. Again: on this belt are four political shades of party politics: first, Republicans; second, Americans (old Whigs); third, Douglas Democrats; and fourth, National Democrats, Buchanan men. Quite a muss. Two of these parties are acting as one; they are the Republicans and Fillmore men. They have a majority over both factions of the Democracy. The materials we have to struggle against are roving, Buffalo, Catholic Irish, backed and guided by the Democracy in the North. They will be run down here on pretense of getting a job, and so in the closely contested fight they will carry, we fear, the uncertain counties. These hell-doomed Irish are all for Douglas, and opposed, here, to the National Administration.
I hope you can understand this complication. I give to you as my opinion, and the opinion of good, honest Republicans, that we will crush Douglas and pro-slaveryism. I give it now as my opinion that Lincoln will be our next United States Senator for Illinois. Your friend,
W. H. HERNDON.
If the State was "in a blue-hot condition " following the Freeport encounter, it became hotter still, if possible, as by
slow stages, speaking incessantly at all sorts of meetings, Lincoln and Douglas made their way down through the debatable belt to Egypt. Had the election been held in early July, Douglas would have carried the State by an overwhelming majority, but the tide was beginning to turn. As we shall see in the letters of Herndon, Republican hopes went skyward with great glee, and the Democrats became correspondingly bitter and glum. Greeley afterwards said truly that Lincoln was a great convincer of men, and in a difficult situation could do his cause more good and less harm than any man of his day. We have now to follow him through the wild and stormy scenes of the closing debates, in which, if he sometimes lost his temper, he never lost his wits.
The Closing Debates
With his powerful voice and facile energy, Douglas had entered the campaign under full steam, confident of success, and determined to win at any cost. His vanity was colossal, and he lost no opportunity to emphasize his superiority over his adversary, if not indeed over every other man in the nation. At Ottawa his strut was impressive, and to his followers overwhelming, as though Lincoln in his grasp was as a mouse being shaken by a lion. All that he had to do, so he seems to have felt, was to fasten upon his opponent the stigma of Abolitionism, and to belittle his personal history and political pretensions. But Lincoln, though vexed at first, was in nowise overawed by so much greatness, and soon let his opponent know that there was serious business on hand.
As Douglas began to realize that the tide had turned toward Lincoln, he lost some of his confidence and all of his manners. Nothing could surpass the imperious and truculent offensiveness of his behavior at Freeport. Deterred by no feeling of humility, no sense of fairness, no regard for the amenities of debate, he resorted to all the devices of a back-alley demagogue, denying facts, dodging arguments, playing upon prejudice, and hurling epithets with a fluency that scarcely another man of his day could equal. A Republican was always a "black Republican," despite the protest of more than one audience that he change the color and "make it a little brown." Negroes, he said, were stumping for " their brother Abe," who, with Trumbull, was leading a "white, black and mixed drove of disappointed politicians " armed with slander. While pretending to greatness, he did not hesitate to stoop to every cheap and trivial trick of gutter-rabble debate.
Still calling Lincoln and Trumbull liars, and expatiating upon the mob spirit prevalent in the "black Republican" party, the Senator wended his way southward to find a more congenial climate. All along he had been eager to "trot Lincoln down into Egypt," threatening what would happen to him when he proclaimed his "negro equality" in that section. What was really happening in the central and southern counties was portrayed, in part at least, in a characteristically vivid letter from Herndon to Parker, describing the state of feeling and some of the causes of the anger of Douglas:
Springfield, Ill., Sept. 2, 1858.
Dear Sir: I wrote you on yesterday a hasty letter, but I hope you can understand; and I am now just on the eve of taking another tour, just having got back. My object in bothering you is this: I want to put the facts of this canvass clearly before you, so that you may form a tolerably correct opinion. My letter on yesterday was specially devoted to conditions of localities, and to the complication of parties.
Now, in this I propose to speak especially of the state of feeling, first in the individual, and then in the whole masses. You are aware that I am a kind of "clever boy among our people, and consequently all treat me respectfully go all places and say all things. This gives me a view of the family circle. Here I hear them talk and sputter in their own way look out of their own eyes. I state to you from this standpoint, that the spirit of Liberty, Freedom every way, is flooding out and clothing the outer clouds with frills of gold and fire. This is not only so in the Republican party, but it is so with respect to the Democratic. This disposition has reached to places very remote. In places that I came near being mobbed in 1855 and '56 men are this day aware of the truth, and are somewhat aroused on all questions of Freedom. This is so in religion. One good thing has resulted from Douglas's war on the clergy: it has opened the people's eyes in that direction; they have in fact commenced a series of inquiries. The world wags, I assure you. I have been in the south part of the State,
"on the sly," organizing clubs, etc., and know what I am talking about. The huge mass begins, just begins, to move. It moves, it is true, heavily and gruntingly, yet it does move. This is the state of individuals and the condition of the masses. Apply it, as you will do, and it follows that the people are ready to hear. They do hear Douglas and Lincoln. Five thousand go; ten, twenty, thirty thousand, it is said, go.
In the debates between Douglas and Lincoln, Douglas is mad, is wild, and sometimes I should judge "half seas over." Douglas gets mad: he calls Lincoln a liar; he calls Trumbull a liar. I heard Judge Trumbull here a few days since, and saw him demonstrate that Douglas struck out of the Toombs Bill that provision which required a submission of the Lecompton constitution to the people. I saw him demonstrate that Douglas put another provision in the bill absolutely prohibiting the people from voting on the constitution. These things I saw proved by the original papers, printed at Washington. Again: Douglas says that the Republicans of Illinois in 1854 passed some resolutions, as their platform. He makes this charge boldly at Ottawa, and now at Freeport they prove that the ones he read are base forgeries, never having been passed by the Republicans. He is compelled by public invitation in all parties to withdraw these forgery charges. He does so, and basely charges Major Harris as the perpetrator.
Again: he asserts that in 1854-56 he was in favor of "squatter sovereignty," and said so on a thousand stumps -real squatter sovereignty, that is, that the people of Illinois might drive slavery out at any time. Now Lincoln is prepared by one of Douglas's printed speeches to prove that Douglas was the other way. In short, that he wilfully lied. So it goes. While Douglas enunciates "lie, lie, blackguards," etc., they are demonstrating to vast crowds by the record that he is a good liar and a forger. The whole State is up in arms, politically so, I mean. Excitement rolls and chafes; it really foams. Believe me, Douglas is losing ground every day. As Douglas sinks, Lincoln rises. We are getting along grandly. Douglas is "sorter" cowed. W. H. HERNDON.
By this time Mr. Parker had read reports of the speeches made in the debate at Ottawa, and was frankly disappointed that Lincoln did not face the questions as stated in the resolutions,