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home place, which was a village of unpaved streets, hub-deep in mud during winter when the legislature met, and without any other public halls than churches. The citizens of Springfield had in their enthusiasm voted a bonus for the location greater than they could well pay. After securing the capital some of these proposed to repudiate the promise, but Lincoln held them to it, and, by great personal sacrifices, in which he was a chief sufferer, the debt was finally paid.
Robert L. Wilson, one of the “Long Nine," has recorded his impressions of Lincoln at this period":
"Lincoln was a natural debater; he was always ready, and always got right down to the merits of his case, without any nonsense or circumlocution. He was quite as much at home in the legislature as at New Salem; he had a quaint and peculiar way, all his own, of treating a subject, and he frequently startled us by his modes—but he was always right. He seemed to be a born politician. We followed his lead, but he followed nobody's lead. ... He could grasp and concentrate the matters under discussion, and his clear statement of an intricate or obscure subject was better than an ordinary argument. It may almost be said that he did our thinking for us, but he had no arrogance, nothing of the dictatorial; it seemed the right thing to do as he did
we recognized him as a master of logic. ... “He was poverty itself when I knew him, but perfectly independent. He would borrow nothing, and never ask favors. He seemed to glide along in life without any friction or effort.
Stephen A. Douglas was also a member of the legislature, being the leader of the Democrats. He, too,
See Life of Lincoln, by Henry C. Whitney, vol. i., p. 140.
was heartily in favor of public improvements. He worked vigorously for his home town, Jacksonville, in the fight for the capital. The victory of Lincoln was the first the Whig leader obtained over the man with whom he was to have a long series of contests ending with that for the Presidency.
During one session the Democrats were in a majority, and, under the leadership of Douglas, they entirely overthrew the judicial system of the State, appointing a bench of their own partisans, Douglas being among the number. Public opinion condemned the change, and it was shortly afterwards abolished by a new constitution adopted by the State, and the old system was restored. Lincoln subsequently, in his famous debates with Douglas, made good use of this episode in his opponent's career, showing that the advocate of submitting to the Dred Scott decision had not always upheld the sanctity of the judiciary.
In 1846 Lincoln was elected to Congress over the famous evangelist, the Rev. Peter Cartwright. He early made himself conspicuous in the House by presenting a scheme for abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, which, however, was refused consideration. He did faithful work on the Post-office committee. Owing to the unpopularity among his constituents of his course on the Mexican war he declined to be a candidate for reëlection. He was succeeded by a Democrat. He retired to the practice of law, with the intention of keeping out of politics, at which, he confessed to the Nestor of the Whigs in Washington, the elder Thomas Ewing, he had made a dismal failure. His subsequent career, to his election as President, will appear in following pages.
The tributes to Lincoln are so many and so excellent that it would be invidious here with respect to their authors to present any."
The demands of Representative Lincoln on President Polk for information as to the cause of the Mexican war are known as the "Spot Resolutions" from their phraseology. With characteristic departure from the conventional form of expression, they called on the President to say whether
the “spot on which the blood of our citizens was shed, as his message declared, was or was not" within the bounds of Mexico as recognized by treaty; whether "the spot" was or was not within a settlement of loyal Mexicans, isolated by wide, uninhabited regions, from the American settlements, and governed entirely by Mexican laws; whether the army under General Taylor was or was not sent to invade the region by the order of the President; and whether Taylor had or had not said that in his opinion no such invasion was necessary for the defense of Texas.
On January 12, 1848, Lincoln spoke upon his resolutions. He concluded with a caustic arraignment of President Polk.
“The President is in nowise satisfied with his own positions. First he takes up one, and, in attempting to argue us into it, he argues himself out of it; then seizes another and goes through the same process; and then, confused at being able to think of nothing new, he snatches up the old one again. . . . His mind, taxed beyond its power, is run
· The reader is referred for prose tributes to The Library of Literary Criticism, edited by Charles Wells Moulton, vol. vi., p. 411; and for poetic tributes to The Poets' Lincoln, edited by Osborn H. Oldroyd. The introduction of the latter collection was written by the author of the present book. It is a study of the concurrent development of Lincoln's ability as a statesman and his moral character.
ning hither and thither, like some tortured creature on a burning surface, finding no position on which it can settle down to be at ease. . . . He is a bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed man. God grant he may be able to show that there is not something about his conscience more painful than all his mental perplexity."
Treaty of Peace with Mexico. On February 2, 1848, a treaty of peace, known from the place where it was made as the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, was signed by Mexico and the United States, and on July 4 was proclaimed to be in force. Mexico ceded to us for $15,000,000, and all our claims against her, all of the present territory of the United States south and west of the Louisiana Purchase, except a strip of territory in the southern part of the present States of New Mexico and Arizona, which was subsequently ceded (in 1854) for $10,000,000. The latter cession was called the Gadsden Purchase from the fact that it was negotiated by our minister to Mexico, James Gadsden.
THE WILMOT PROVISO
Debate in the House on the Wilmot Proviso: in Favor, David Wilmot
[Pa.), Joshua R. Giddings (0.1-Sketch of Wilmot-Senator Lewis Cass (Mich.) Enunciates Doctrine of Popular Sovereignty-Sketch of Cass—Debate in the Senate on Slavery in the Territories: in Favor, John C. Calhoun (S. C.); Opposed, Thomas H. Benton (Mo.), Daniel Webster (Mass.?-Debate in the Senate on Legality of Slavery in Territories: in Favor, James M. Mason (Va.), Reverdy Johnson (Md.]: Opposed, Thomas Corwin (0.1-Sketches of Mason and Johnson-Presidential Campaign of 1848–Debate in the Senate on Extension of Constitution to the Territories: in Favor, Isaac P. Walker (Wis.), Mr. Calhoun, John M. Berrien (Ga.); Opposed, Mr. Webster-Sketch of Walker.
THE question now arose, what should be the condition
of this vast territory outside of Texas-slave or free? Already this had been anticipated. On August 8, 1846, a bill was introduced in the House to appropriate $2,000,000, for extraordinary expenses which might be incurred in the war with Mexico. To this David Wilmot [Pa.],' a Democrat of anti-slavery principles, offered a proviso, which had been drafted by Judge Jacob Brinkerhoff (O.),that if any part of the appropri
· Wilmot was a lawyer who served in Congress from 1845 to 1851. From 1853 to 1861 he was presiding judge of the Federal District Court in Pennsylvania. He was Senator from 1861 to 1863, when he was appointed judge of the Federal Court of Claims.
* Brinkerhoff was a Democratic member of Congress from 1843 to 1847. He was a judge of the Supreme Court of Ohio from 1856 to 1871.