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the city, the Hon. I. L. Milikin, was invited and consented to preside. The announcement of his intention to speak was received with great excitement. The newspapers warned the public to be there, and not to allow him to deceive the people by his sophistries. One paper, appealing directly to the prejudices of the Know-nothings, announced that Mr. Douglas had selected a body-guard of five hundred Irishmen, who, with arms in their hands, were to be present, and compel the people to silence while he spoke, and thus he would claim that they had, by not objecting, admitted his arguments and defense to be complete. Strange as it may seem that such a statement should obtain credence in an intelligent community, yet the fact is unquestionable. In a day or two after, another paper, hostile to Mr. Douglas, declared that there was a feverish sentiment prevailing in the community indicating a season of violence, and proved its assertion by citing the fact that every revolver and pistol in the stores of the city had been sold, and that there were orders for a large number yet unfilled.
The fact that violence was to take place at the meeting was daily impressed upon the public, but with consummate dexterity it was stated that Douglas intended to overawe the public by an armed demonstration. It is needless to say that this was utterly destitute of truth. All he asked, all he desired, was an orderly meeting, that he might be heard in explanation and defense of the Nebraska Bill.
Under such circumstances as these assembled the meeting on that September evening. During the afternoon the flags of such shipping as was owned by the most bitter of the Fusionists were hung at half-mast; at dusk the bells of numerous churches tolled with all the doleful solemnity that might be supposed appropriate for some impending calamity. As the evening closed in, crowds flocked to the place of meeting. At a quarter before eight o'clock Mr. Douglas commenced to address the multitude. The whole area in front of the building, and the street running east to Dearborn and west to Clark Street, were soon densely packed. The roofs of houses opposite, and windows, balconies, and every available standing-spot, were occupied. He had hardly commenced before he was hailed with a storm of hisses; he paused until silence was comparatively restored, when he told the meeting that he came there to address his constituents, and intended to be heard. He was
instantly assailed by all manner of epithets and abuse. He stood his ground firmly, contesting with that maddened and excited crowd. His friends-and he had friends there, warm, devoted, and unyielding Democrats-were indignant, and were disposed to resent some of the most indecent outrages. Mr. Douglas appealed to them to be calm; to leave him to deal with the mob before him. He denounced the violence exhibited as a preconcerted thing, and in defiance of yells, groans, cat-calls, and every insulting menace and threat, he read aloud, so that it was heard above the infernal din, a letter informing him that, if he dared to speak, he would be maltreated.
We never saw such a scene before, and hope never to see the like again. What we have described is a pretty fair description of what took place during that protracted struggle. Until ten o'clock he stood firm and unyielding, bidding the mob defiance, and occasionally getting in a word or two upon the general subject. It was the penalty for his speech in Philadelphia. It was the penalty for having made the first assault upon Know-nothingism. It was the penalty for having dared to assail an order including within its members a vast majority of the allied opposition of the Western States. We have conversed since then with men who were present at that mob; with men who went there as members of the order, pledged to stand by and protect each other; with men who were armed to the teeth in anticipation of a scene of bloody violence, and they have assured us that nothing prevented bloodshed that night but the bold and defiant manner in which Douglas maintained his ground. Had he exhibited fear, he would not have commanded respect; had he been suppliant, he would have been spurned; had he been craven, and retreated, his party would in all probability have been assaulted with missiles, leading to violence in return. But, standing there before that vast mob, presenting a determined front and unyielding purpose, he extorted an involuntary admiration from those of his enemies who had the courage to engage in a personal encounter; and that admiration, while it could not overcome the purpose of preventing his being heard, protected him from personal violence.
The motive, the great ruling reason for refusing him the privilege of being heard, was that, as he had in 1850 carried the judgment of the people captive into an endorsement of the
Fugitive Slave Law, so, if allowed to speak in 1854, he would at least rally all Democrats to his support by his defense of the Nebraska Bill. The combined fanatics of Chicago feared the power and effect of his argument in the presence and hearing of the people. They therefore resolved that he should not be heard.
So far as this occasion was concerned the object was successfully attained, and if there were any doubts as to the fact that the course agreed upon had been previously concerted, the experience of the following few weeks served to remove all question on that subject.
Mr. Douglas announced his intention to speak at several points in the state, there being an election for Congressmen and state treasurer then pending. Every where throughout the northern part of the state he was greeted upon his arrival by every possible indignity that could be offered, short of personal violence. Burning effigies, effigies suspended by ropes, banners with all the vulgar mottoes and inscriptions that passion and prejudice could suggest, were displayed at various points. Whenever he attempted to speak, the noisy demonstrations which had proved so successful in Chicago were attempted, but in no place did they succeed in preventing his being heard. At Galena, Freeport, Waukegan, Woodstock, and other points in the very heart of the Abolition and Know-nothing portion of the state, he made strong, clear, and brilliant addresses in defense of the great measure. He justified the repeal of the Missouri restriction upon the same ground that he had justified the Compromise measures of 1850—that it was neither a Pro-slavery nor an Anti-slavery measure—that it was a surrender and a final abandonment by Congress and the federal government of any authority or claim of authority over the subject of slavery in the Territories; and that it recognized in the people of the Territories, acting through their Legisla tures, and through their state conventions, full, exclusive, and complete power to prohibit or introduce, to exclude or protect, African slavery within their respective Territorial limits.
In 1854 he proclaimed that doctrine in the face of an excited Abolition mob, drawing from them the fiercest denunciations. In 1858 he proclaimed the same doctrine in the face of a mass meeting at the same place, and, for the first time in the history of the Nebraska Bill, it was discovered by those who preferred
the election of Lincoln that Mr. Douglas was preaching a heresy!
It was not until late in the fall, and not until after he had become a candidate for Congress, that Mr. Lyman Trumbull raised the banner of Anti-Nebraskaism, and put himself in open hostility to the Democratic party. A senatorial election was to take place at the approaching session, General Shields's term expiring March 4th, 1855.
The previous Legislature had been largely Democratic, and the senators holding over, if they continued as Democrats, would, with those Democrats certain to be elected, secure a Democratic senator. The elections in Indiana had gone "Fusion" by forty or fifty thousand majority; in Ohio by a majority reaching eighty thousand; in Michigan and Wisconsin by majorities equally overwhelming.
The candidates in Illinois for state treasurer were, James Miller, Whig, Abolition, Know-nothing, Anti-Nebraska, Fusion, and John Moore, Democrat. In November the election took place, resulting in the election to Congress of Richardson, Harris, Allen, and Marshal, Democrats, and Washburne, Woodworth, Norton, Knox, and Trumbull, by the combination. The Democrats elected their candidate for state treasurer.
In the Legislature the state of parties was not so clearly defined. In the House of Representatives, composed of seventyfive members, T. J. Turner (Fusion) was elected speaker, receiving forty votes. In the Senate, composed of twenty-five members, the Democrats had seventeen members who had been elected as Democrats. Of those three, N. B. Judd, B. C. Cook, and J. M. Palmer, senators, holding over, had got "tender-footed"—that is, were Anti-Nebraska Democrats, whose consciences would not allow them to vote for General Shields, or any Nebraska Democrat, and whose notions of political morality revolted at the idea of voting for a Whig.
The Legislature met in joint convention on the 8th of February, 1855, for the purpose of electing a senator of the United States to succeed General Shields, and the first ballot resulted -Shields (Democrat) 41, Ficklin (Dem.) 1, Denning (Dem.) 1, Matteson (Dem.) 1. Total (Dem.), 44. Abraham Lincoln 45, L. Trumbull 5, Ogden (Fusion) 1, Kellogg (Fusion) 1, Koerner (Fusion) 2, Edwards (Fusion) 1. Total, 55—one vacancy. On the seventh vote Lincoln received 38, Matteson
44, Trumbull 9, Shields 1, M'Clernand 1, Koerner 1. On the ninth Matteson received 47, Lincoln 15, Trumbull 35; and on the tenth Trumbull was elected, receiving 51 votes, Matteson 47, Williams 1-one Whig, Mr. Waters, refusing to take the apostate Democrat at the dictation of the men who had sacrificed Lincoln.
Resolutions upon the subject of slavery were introduced into both branches of the Legislature at that session, though no series received the concurrent approval of both branches. Trumbull having been elected to the Senate, his district chose the Hon. Robert Smith (Dem.) to fill the vacancy.
After the election, Mr. Douglas was invited by his political friends in Chicago to partake of a public dinner, and he accepted the invitation. The 9th of November was selected for the time, and on that evening some two hundred gentlemen sat down to a dinner at the Tremont House. In response to a complimentary sentiment, Mr. Douglas addressed the company in a very graceful, eloquent, and finished speech. It is part of the history of his life, was a noble vindication of his conduct, and was substantially the address which he would have made to the people of Chicago in September, had he not been prevented by the mob. Want of space prevents its insertion here. It was printed in pamphlet form, and, though it claimed for the people of the Territories full legislative control over the subject of slavery within their Territorial limits—a control limited only by the Constitution-no word of dissent was heard from any Democratic quarter as to the doctrines therein asserted.
A few days after this festive occasion Mr. Douglas left Chicago on a visit to Louisiana, and subsequently, when at Washington City, was invited to address a public meeting at Richmond, Virginia. At the South there was no opposition to the Nebraska Bill, but the great majority of the old opponents of the Democracy had united under the new and mysterious command of the Know-nothing order. Mr. Douglas addressed a very large meeting at the "African Church," in Richmond, in defense of Democratic principles and in reprobation of the intolerant creed of the Know-nothings. Of this speech, which was remarkable for its general ability, one passage, in which he addressed a most impressive warning against American citizens rashly and inconsiderately binding themselves in political matters by solemn oaths, attracted universal attention