« AnteriorContinuar »
and innocent. Then, with the words, "Where is Mr. Lincoln ?" he rushed across the room and grasped the hand of his deliverer, while his heart was too full for utterance. Lincoln turned his eyes toward the West, where the sun still lingered in view, and then, turning to the youth, said, “It is not yet sundown, and you are free.” I confess that my cheeks were not wholly unwet by tears, and I turned from the affecting scene. As I cast a glance behind, I saw Abraham Lincoln obeying the divine injunction, by comforting the widowed and the fatherless.
On becoming well established in his profession, Mr. Lincoln took up his permanent residence at Springfield, the county seat of Sangamon county. This occurred in the spring immediately following the passage of the act removing the State capital to that place, but more than two years before it was to go into effect. The date at which he became settled in Springfield, which has ever since been the place of his residence, was April 15, 1837.
For several years after his removal, Mr. Lincoln remained a bachelor, and was an inmate of the family of the Hon. William Butler, in later years the Treasurer of the State. For threu or four
years he continued to represent his county in the Legislature, but after 1840, he refused further public service, with a view to the exclusive pursuit of his profession, the highest success in which he could not hope to obtain while giving so much of his time, as had been hitherto required of him, to political affairs.
On the 4th of November, 1842, Mr. Lincoln was married to Miss MARY TODD, daughter of the Hon. Robert S. Todd, of Lexington, Kentucky. This lady is one of four sisters, the eldest of whom had previously married the Ilon. Ninian W. Edwards, and settled at Springfield. Her two other sisters, subsequently married, became residents of the same town. Mr. Lincoln's domestic relations were happy, and his devoted attachment to his home and family was always one of the marked traits of his personal character. Of the four sons born to him, Robert T., the oldest, was at school at Eseter Academy, in New Hampshire, when Mr. Lincoln was first nominated for the Presidency, and soon after entered Harvard
University, where he completed his course in 1864, when in his twenty-first year. The second son died when four years old. The third, Willie, died at the White House in 1863, at the age of twelve years. Thomas, familiarly called “Tad,” was two years younger.
It is proper to mention that Mrs. Lincoln is a Presbyterian by education and profession (two of her sisters are Episcopalians), and that her husband, though not a member, was a liberal supporter of the church to which she belongs. It should further be stated that the Sunday School, and other benevolent enterprises associated with these church relations, found in him a constant friend.
In this quiet domestic happiness, and in the active practice of his profession, with its round of ordinary duties, and with its exceptional cases of a more general public interest, Mr. Lincoln disappears for the time from political life. Its peculiar excitements, indeed, were not foreign to the stirring and adventurous nature which, as we have seen, was his by inheritance. Nor could the people, and the party of which he was so commanding a leader, long consent to his retirement. Yet such was his prudent purpose—now especially, with a family to care for—and to this he adhered, with only occasional exceptions, until, four years after his marriage, he was elected to Congress.
CANVASSES OF 1844 AND 1846.
Mr. Lincoln's Devotion to Henry Clay.—The Presidential Nomina
tions of 1844.—The Campaign in Illinois.—Mr. Lincoln Makes an Active Canvass for Clay.-John Calhoun the Leading Polk Elector.The Tariff Issue Thoroughly Discussed.—Method of Conducting the Canvass.—The Whigs of Illinois in a Hopeless Minority.-Mr. Lincoln's Reputation as a Whig Champion.-Renders Efficient Service in Indiana.—Mr. Clay's Defeat and the Consequences.—Mr. Lincoln a Candidate for Congressman in 1816.—President Polk's Administration.--Condition of the Country.-Texas Annexation, the Mexican War and the Tariff.--Political Character of the Springfield District.
Mr. Lincoln Elected by an Unprecedented Majority.-His Personal • Popularity Demonstrated.
MR. LINCOLN had, from his first entrance into political life, recognized Henry Clay as his great leader and instructor in statesmanship. His reverence and attachment for the great Kentuckian had been unlimited and enthusiastic. When, therefore, Mr. Clay had been nominated by acclamation for the Presidency by the National Whig Convention, held at Baltimore on the 1st of May, 1844, and when a Democrat of the most offensive school was put in nomination against him, Mr. Lincoln yielded to the demands of the Whigs of Illinois, and, for the first time breaking over the restrictions he had placed upon himself in regard to the exclusive pursuit of his profession, he consented to take a leading position in canvassing the State as an elector. In a State that had stood unshaken in its Democratic position, while so many others had been revolutionized during the great political tempest of 1840, there was, of course, no hope of immediate success. It was deemed an opportunity not to be lost, however, for maintaining and strengthening the Whig organization, and a spirited canvass was consequently made.
On the Democratic side, John Calhoun, then one of the strongest and most popular speakers of that party, and in many respects quite another man than he subsequently became, held the laboring oar for Mr. Polk. Mr. Lincoln traversed various parts of the State, attracting large audiences and keeping their fixed attention for hours, as he held up to admiration the character and doctrines of Henry Clay, and contrasted them with those of his Presidential opponent. On the tariff question, which was the chief issue in Illinois that year, he was particularly elaborate, strongly enforcing the great principles on which the protective system, as maintained by Clay, was based. He had always a fund of anecdote and illustration, with which to relieve his close logical disquisitions, and to elucidate and enforce his views in a manner perfectly intelligible, as well as pleasing to all classes of hearers. This campaign, so barren in immediate results, as it was expected to be in Illinois, was not without its excellent fruits, ultimately, to the party. It had also the effect of establishing Mr. Lincoln's reputation as a political orator, on a still broader and more permanent foundation. From this time forward he was widely known as one of the soundest and most effective of Whig champions in the West.
After doing in Illinois all that could have been required of one man, had this arena been of the most promising description, Mr. Lincoln crossed the Wabash, at the desire of the people of his former State, and contributed largely toward turning the tide of battle for Clay in that really hopeful field. Here he worked most efficiently, losing no opportunity up to the very eve of the election. In Indiana, those efforts were not forgotten, but were freshly called to mind, at a later juncture, by great numbers of Old Whigs in Southern Indiana.
If any event, more heartily than another, could have dig. couraged Mr. Lincoln from again participating in political affairs, it was the disastrous result, in the nation at large, of this canvass of 1844. He felt it more keenly than he could have done if it were a mere personal reverse. Mr. Clay was defcated, contrary to the ardent hopes, and even expectations
of his friends, down to the last moment. Of the causes and tho consequences which followed that event, the impartial historian, at some future day, can more candidly and philosophically speak than any of those who shared in this disappointment. That the election of Mr. Polk over Mr. Clay, made the subsequent political history of our country far different from what it would have been with the opposite result, all will concede.
Two years later, in 1846, Mr. Lincoln was induced to accept the Whig nomination for Congress in the Sangamon District. The annexation of Texas had, in the meantime, been consummated. The Mexican war had been begun, and was still in progress. The Whig tariff of 1842 had just been repealed. This latter event had been acccomplished in the Senate by the casting vote of Mr. Dallas, the Vice-President, and with the official approval of Mr. Polk, the President, both of whom had been elected by the aid of Pennsylvania, and had carried the vote of that State solely by being represented to the people as favoring the maintainance of the tariff which they thus destroyed.
The Springfield district had given Mr. Clay a majority of 914 in 1844, on the most thorough canvass. It gave Mr. Lin. coln a majority af 1,511, which was entirely unprecedented, and has been unequaled by that given there for any opposition candidate, for any office since. The nearest approach was in 1848, when Gen. Taylor, on a much fuller vote than that of 1846, and receiving the votes of numerou, returned Mexican volunteers, of Democratic faith, and who had served under him in Mexico, obtained a majority of 1,501. In the samo year (1848) Mr. Logan, the popular Whig candidate, was beaten by Col. Thomas L. Harris, Democrat, by 106 majority. There was no good reason to doubt, in advance, that Mr. Lincoln would have been elected by a handsome majority, had he consented to run for another term, nor has it been questionable, since the result became known, that the strong personal popularity of Mr. Lincoln would have saved the district. It was redeemed by Richard Yates in 1850, who carried his election by less than half the majority (754) which Mr. Lincolo had received in 15. The district, after its reconstruc