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CHAPTER VIII.

MR. LINCOLN IN CONGRESS.—1847-49.

The Thirtieth Congress—Its Political Character—The Democracy in a Minority in the House.—Robert C. Winthrop Elected Speaker.— Distinguished Members in both Houses.—Mr. Lincoln takes his Seat as a Member of the House, and Mr. Douglas. for tho first time, as a Member of the Senate, at the same Session.—Mr. Lincoln's Congressional Record, that of a Clay and Webster Whig.—The Mexican War.—Mr. Lincoln's Views on the Subject.—Misrepresentations.— Not an Available Issue for Mr. Lincoln's Opponents.—His Resolutions of Inquiry in Regard to the Origin of the War.—Mr. Richardson's Resolutions Indorsing the Administration.—Mr. Hudson's Resolutions for an Immediate Discontinuance of the War.—Voted Against by Mr. Lincoln.—Resolutions of Thanks to Gen. Taylor.— Mr. Henley's Amendment, and Mr. Ashman's Addition thereto.— Resolutions Adopted without Amendment.—Mr. Lincoln's First Speech in Congress, on the Mexican War.—Mr. Lincoln on Internal Improvements.—A Characteristic Campaign Speech.—Mr. Lincoln on the Nomination of Gen. Taylor; the Veto Power; National Issues; President and People; the Wilmot Provisof-Platforms; Democratic Sympathy for Clay; Military Heroes and Exploits; Cass a Progressive; Extra Pay; the Whigs and the Mexican War; Democratic Divisions.—Close of the Session.—Mr. Lincoln on the Stump.—Gen. Taylor's Election.—Second Session of the Thirtieth Congress.— Slavery in the District of Columbia.—The Public Lands.—Mr. Iancoin as a Congressman.—He Retires to Private Life.

Mr. Lincoln took his seat in the National House of Representatives on the 6th day of December, 1847, the date of tho opening of the Thirtieth Congress. In many respects this Congress was a memorable one. That which preceded, elected at the same time Mr. Polk was chosen to the Presidency, had been strongly Democratic in both branches. The policy of the Administration, however, had been such, during the first two years of its existence, that a great popular re-action had followed

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THE NEW YORK

PUBLIC LIBRARY. The present House contained but one hundred and ten Democrats, while the remaining one hundred and eighteen, with the exception of a single Native American from Philadelphia, were nearly all Whigs, the balance being "Free-Soil men," who mostly co-operated with them. Of these, only Messrs. Giddings, Tuck and Palfrey refused to vote for the Hon. Robert C. Winthrop for Speaker, who was elected on the third ballot.

Among the members of the House, on the Whig side, were John Quincy Adams (who died during the first session, and was succeeded by Horace Mann), and George Ashman, of Massachusetts; Washington Hunt, of New York; Jacob Collamer and George P. Marsh, of Vermont; Truman Smith, of Connecti cut; Joseph R. Ingersoll and James Pollock, of Pennsylvania; John M. Botts and William L. Goggin, of Virginia; Alexander H. Stephens, Robert Toombs and Thomas Butler King, of Georgia; Henry W. Hilliard, of Alabama; Samuel F. Vinton and Robert C. Schenck, of Ohio; John B. Thompson and Charles S. Morehead,of Kentucky; Caleb B. Smith and Richard W. Thompson, of Indiana, and Meredith P. Gentry, of Tennessee. On the Democratic side, there were David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania; Robert M. McLane, of Maryland; James McDowell and Richard K. Meade, of Virginia; R. Barnwell Rhett, of South Carolina; Howell Cobb, of Georgia; AlbertG. Brown and Jacob Thompson, of Mississippi; Linn Boyd, of Kentucky; Andrew Johnson, George W.Jones and Frederick P. Stanton, of Tennessee; James S. Greene and John S. Phelps, of Missouri; and Kinsley S. Bingham, of Michigan. Illinois had seven representatives, of whom Mr Lincoln was tha only Whig. His Democratic colleagues were John A. McClernand, Orlando B. Ficklin, William A. Richardson, Robert Smith, Thomas J. Turner and John Wentworth.

At this session, Stephen A. Douglas took his seat in the Senate, for the first time, having been elected the previous winter. In that body there were but twenty-two Opposition Senators, against thirty-six Democrats. Among the former were Daniel Webster, Wm. L. Dayton, S. S. Phelps, John M. Clayton, Reverdy Johnson, Thomas Corwin, John M. Berrien, and John Bell. On the Democratic side were John C. Calhoun, Thomas H. Bentou, Daniel S. Dickinson, Simon Cameron, Hannibal Hamlin, Sam Houston, R. M. T. Hunter, and William R. King.

Mr. Lincoln was comparatively quite a young man when he entered the House, yet he was early recognized as one of the foremost of the Western men on the floor. His Congressional record, throughout, is that of a Whig of those days, his votes on all leading national subjects, being invariably what those of Clay, Webster or Corwin would have been, had they occupied his place. One of the most prominent subjects of consideration before the Thirtieth Congress, very naturally, was the then existing war with Mexico. Mr. Lincoln was one of those who believed the Administration had not properly managed its affairs with Mexico at the outset, and who, while voting supplies and for suitably rewarding our gallant soldiers in that war, wore unwilling to be forced, by any trick of the supporters of the Administration, into an unqualified indorsement of its course in this affair, from beginning to end. In this attitude. Mr. Lincoln did not stand alone. Such was the position of Whig members in both Houses, without exception. Yet his course was unscrupulously misrepresented, during the campaign of 1858, as it has been more or less, on other occasions since. That many men who supported Mr. Lincoln, approved President Polk's course in regard to the Mexican War, as well, in its inception as in its management from first to last, is not improbable. But all those who, at that time, were induced by their party relations, to sustain the Administration, at heart approved the method in which hostilities were precipitated, or felt satisfied that the most commendable motives actuated the Government in its course toward Mexico, is certainly not true. This is not an issue that any existing party need be anxious to resuscitate. Still less would the friends of Mr. Lincoln be reluctant to have his record on this question scrutinized to the fullest extent.

Early in the session, after listening to a long homily on the subject from the President, in his annual message, in which the gauntlet was defiantly thrown down before the Opposition members, and after his colleague, Mr. Richardson, had pro

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