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ludicrous on his face. He walked to the stand, mounted it in a kind of mockery, — mirth and sadness all combined, — and said, Gentlemen, this meeting is larger than I knew it would be. I knew that Herndon and myself would come, but I did not know that any one else would be here; and yet another has come, you, John Pain. These are sad times, and seem out of joint. All seems dead, dead, dead: but the age is not yet dead; it liveth as sure as our Maker liveth. Under all this seeming want of life and motion, the world does move nevertheless. Be hopeful. And now let us adjourn, and appeal to the people.'
"This speech is in substance just as he delivered it, and substantially in the same sad but determined spirit; and so we did adjourn, did go out, and did witness the fact that the world was not dead.'
The Bloomington Convention sent delegates to the general Republican Convention, which was to be held at Philadelphia in June. That body was to nominate candidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency, and high hopes were entertained of their success. But much remained to be done before such a revolution in sentiment could be expected. The American or Know-Nothing party- corrupt, hideous, and delusive, but still powerful had adopted the old Whig platform on the several slavery questions, and planted itself decisively against the agitations of the Anti-Nebraska men and the Republicans. A "National Council" had taken this position for it the year previous, in terms beside which the resolutions of the Whigs and Democrats in 1852 were mild and inexpressive. Something, therefore, must be done to get this great organization out of the way, or to put its machinery under "Republican" control. We have seen a party of gentlemen from Chicago proposing to go into the lodges, and "rule them for freedom." Mr. Herndon and Mr. Lincoln rejected the plot with lofty indignation; but a section of the Free-Soil politicians were by no means so fastidious. They were for the most part bad, insincere, trading men, with whom the profession of principles of any kind was merely a
convenient disguise, and who could be attached to no party, except from motives of self-interest. As yet, they were not quite certain whether it were possible to raise more hatred in the Northern mind against foreigners and Catholics than against slaveholders; and they prudently determined to be in a situation to try either. Accordingly, they went into the lodges, took the oaths, swore to stand by the platform of the "National Council" of 1855, and were perfectly ready to do that, or to betray the organization to the Republicans, as the prospect seemed good or bad. Believing the latter scheme to be the best, upon deliberation, they carried it out as far as in them lay, and then told the old, grim, honest, antislavery men, with whom they again sought association, that they had joined the Know-Nothings, and sworn irrevocable oaths to proscribe foreigners and Catholics, solely that they might rule the order "for freedom;" and, the Republicans standing in much need of aid just then, the excuse was considered very good. But it was too shameless a business for Lincoln and Herndon; and they most righteously despised it.
In February, 1856, the Republicans held what Mr. Greeley styles their "first National Convention," at Pittsburg; but they made no nominations there. At the same time, a KnowNothing American "National Council" was sitting at Philadelphia (to be followed by a nominating convention); and the Republicans at Pittsburg had not adjourned before they got news by telegraph, that the patriots who had entered the lodges on false pretences were achieving a great success: the American party was disintegrating, and a great section of it falling away to the Republicans. A most wonderful political feat had been performed, and the way was now apparently clear for a union of the all-formidable anti-Democratic elements in the Presidential canvass.
On the 17th of June the National Republican Convention met at Philadelphia, and nominated John C. Fremont for President, and William L. Dayton for Vice-President. Mr. Williams, Chairman of the Illinois Delegation, presented to
the convention the name of Abraham Lincoln for the latter office; and it was received with great enthusiasm by some of the Western delegates. He received, however, but 110 votes, against 259 for Mr. Dayton, and 180 scattered; and Mr. Dayton was immediately thereafter unanimously declared the nominee.
While this convention was sitting, Mr. Lincoln was attending court at Urbana, in Champaign County. When the news reached that place that Mr. Dayton had been nominated, and" Lincoln had received 110 votes," some of the lawyers insisted that the latter must have been "our [their] Lincoln;" but he said, "No, it could not be: it must have been the great Lincoln from Massachusetts." He utterly refused to believe in the reality of this unexpected distinction until he saw the proceedings in full. He was just then in one of his melancholy moods, his spirits depressed, and his heart suffering the miseries of a morbid mind.
With an indorsement of the "self-evident truths" and "inalienable rights" of the Declaration of Independence, the Republican Convention adopted the following as the practical and essential features of its platform:
“Resolved, . . . That we deny the authority of Congress, of a territorial Legislature, of any individual, or association of individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any Territory of the United States while the present Constitution shall be maintained.
"Resolved, That the Constitution confers upon Congress sovereign power over the Territories of the United States for their government; and that, in the exercise of this power, it is both the right and the duty of Congress to prohibit in the Territories those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery."
The National Democratic Convention had already placed in nomination Buchanan and Breckenridge. Their platform denounced as sectional the principles and purposes of their opponents; re-affirmed "the principles contained in the organic laws establishing the Territories of Kansas and Ne
braska, as embodying the only sound and safe solution of the slavery question," and declared further,
"That by the uniform application of Democratic principles to the organization of Territories and the admission of new States, with or without slavery as they may elect, the equal rights of all the States will be preserved intact, the original compacts of the Constitution maintained inviolate, and the perpetuity and expansion of the Union insured to its utmost capacity of embracing, in peace and harmony, every future American State that may be constituted or annexed with a republican form of government.”
Mr. Lincoln was again a candidate for the office of Presidential elector, and made a thorough and energetic canvass. Some of his speeches were very striking; and probably no man in the country discussed the main questions in that campaign
Kansas, and slavery in the Territories — in a manner more original and persuasive. From first to last, he scouted the intimation that the election of Fremont would justify a dissolution of the Union, or that it could possibly become even the occasion of a dissolution. In his eyes, the apprehensions of disunion were a "humbug;" the threat of it mere bluster, and the fear of it silly timidity.
In the heat of the canvass, Mr. Lincoln wrote the following perfectly characteristic letter, - marked "Confidential :
SPRINGFIELD, Sept. 8, 1856.
HARRISON MALTBY, ESQ.
Dear Sir, I understand you are a Fillmore man. that every vote withheld from Fremont and given to actually lessens Fillmore's chance of being President.
Let me prove to you
Suppose Buchanan gets all the Slave States and Pennsylvania, and any other one State besides; then he is elected, no matter who gets all the rest. But suppose Fillmore gets the two Slave States of Maryland and Kentucky; then Buchanan is not elected: Fillmore goes into the House of Representatives, and may be made President by a compromise.
But suppose, again, Fillmore's friends throw away a few thousand votes on him in Indiana and Illinois: it will inevitably give these States to Buchanan, which will more than compensate him for the loss of Maryland and Kentucky; will elect him, and leave Fillmore no chance in the H. R., or out of it.
This is as plain as adding up the weights of three small hogs. As Mr. Fillmore has no possible chance to carry Illinois for himself, it is plainly to his interest to let Fremont take it, and thus keep it out of the hands of Buchanan. Be not deceived. Buchanan is the hard horse to beat in this Let him have Illinois, and nothing can beat him; and he will get Illinois if men persist in throwing away votes upon Mr. Fillmore. Does some one persuade you that Mr. Fillmore can carry Illinois? Nonsense! There are over seventy newspapers in Illinois opposing Buchanan, only three or four of which support Mr. Fillmore, all the rest going for Fremont. Are not these newspapers a fair index of the proportion of the votes? If not, tell me why.
Again, of these three or four Fillmore newspapers, two, at least, are supported in part by the Buchanan men, as I understand. Do not they know where the shoe pinches? They know the Fillmore movement helps them, and therefore they help it.
Do think these things over, and then act according to your judgment.
This letter was discovered by the Buchanan men, printed in their newspapers, and pronounced, as its author anticipated, "a mean trick." It was a dangerous document to them, and was calculated to undermine the very citadel of their strength.
Mr. Lincoln was still in imperfect fellowship-if, indeed, in any fellowship at all-with the extreme Abolitionists. He had met with Lovejoy and his followers at Bloomington, and was apparently co-operating with them for the same party purposes; but the intensity of his opposition to their radical views is intimated very strongly in this letter to Mr. Whitney:
SPRINGFIELD, July 9, 1856.
Dear Whitney, I now expect to go to Chicago on the 15th, and I probably shall remain there or thereabout for about two weeks.
It turned me blind when I first heard Swett was beaten and Lovejoy nominated; but, after much anxious reflection, I really believe it is best to let it stand. This, of course, I wish to be confidential.
Lamon did get your deeds. I went with him to the office, got them, and put them in his hands myself. Yours very truly,