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newspapers; they were read in all homes, and the cry sped from lip to lip—"Douglas sustains Lincoln!" In vain did the emissaries of Davis cry "No coercion." "Douglas sustains Lincoln," not as Lincoln, but as President of an assailed Republic," was too strong for their piping treason.
Lying in his sick-room, he dictated his last letter, on the 10th of May. It was addressed to Virgil Hickox, Chairman of the State Central Democratic Committee. In that he said: "It seems that some of my friends are unable to comprehend the difference between arguments used in favor of an equitable compromise, with the hope of averting the horrors of war, and those urged in support of the government and flag of our country, when war is being waged against the United States, with the avowed purpose of producing a permanent disruption of the Union and a total destruction of its government ********* In this view of the state of facts, there was but one path of duty left to patriotic men. It was not a party question, nor a question involving partisan policy; it was a question of government or no government / country or no country / and hence it became the imperative duty of every union man, every friend of constitutional liberty, to rally to the support of our common country, its govern' ment and fag, as the only means of checking the progress of revolution and preserving the Union. ****** I trust the time will never come when I shall not be willing to make any needful sacrifice of personal feeling and party policy for the honor and integrity of the country."
And when the word "Douglas is dead," was flashed along the wires, men of all parties wept. They came from almost every county in Illinois, to look upon his remains as they lay in state in Bryan Hall; and as they passed the pile on which they rested, few looked upon them who did not feel that the last days of his life were incomparably the most glorious. He had crowned his pyramid with a capital of stars! The long procession which followed his body to the quiet grave on the western shore of the grand lake he so much loved, followed not the partisan—not the eloquent Senator—but Stephen A. Douglas, The Patriot! Old strifes were forgotten; old blows forgiven; old feuds buried.
His words completed the majesty of the "Great Uprising;" they completed the prostration of party lines, and the unity of the people,
WIGWAM SPEECH. 83
It is due to his memory that we place in this chapter some extracts from his last speech:
"I beg you to believe that I will not do you or myself the injustice to think that this magnificent ovation is personal to myself. I rejoice to know that it expresses your devotion to the Constitution, the Union, and the flag of our country. I will not conceal gratification at the uncontrovertible test this vast audience presents—that, what political differences or party questions may have divided us, yet you all had a conviction that, when the country should be in danger, my loyalty could be relied on. That the present danger is imminent, no man can conceal. If war must come— if the bayonet must be used to maintain the Constitution—I say before God, my conscience is clean. I have struggled long for a peaceful solution of the difficulty. I have not only tendered those States what was theirs of right, but I have gone to the very extreme of magnanimity.
"The return we receive is war; armies marched upon our Capital; obstructions and dangers to our navigation; letters of marque, to invite pirates to prey upon our commerce; a concerted movement to blot out the United States of America from the map of the globe. The question is, Are we to maintain the country of our fathers, or allow it to be stricken down by those who, when they can no longer govern, threaten to destroy?
"What cause, what excuse do disunionists give us, for breaking up the best Government on which the sun of heaven ever shed its rays? They are dissatisfied with the result of the Presidential election. Did they never get beaten before? Are we to resort to the sword when we get defeated at the ballot box? I understand it that the voice of the people expressed in the mode appointed by the Constitution, must command the obedience of every citizen. They assume, on the election of a particular candidate, that their rights are not safe in the Union. What evidence do they present of this? I defy any man to show any act on which it is based. What act has been omitted to be done? I appeal to these assembled thousands, that so far as the constitutional rights of slaveholders are concerned, nothing has been done, and nothing omitted, of which they can complain.
"There has never been a time from the day that Washington was inaugurated first President of the United States, when the rights of the Southern States stood firmer under the laws of the land than they do now; there never was a time when they had not as good cause for disunion as they have to-day. What good cause have they now that has not existed under every administration?
"If they say the Territorial question—now, for the first time, there is no act of Congress prohibiting slavery anywhere. If it be the non-enforcement of the laws, the only complaints, that I have heard, have been of the too vigorous and faithful fulfillment of the Fugitive Slave Law? Then what reason have they?
"The slavery question is a mere excuse. The election of Lincoln is a mere pretext The present secession movement is the result of an enormous conspiracy formed more than a year since, formed by leaders in the Southern Confederacy more than twelve months ago.
"But this is no time for the detail of causes. The conspiracy is now known. Armies have been raised, war is levied to accomplish it. There are only two sides to the question. Every man must be for the United States or against it^ There can be no neutrals in this war; only patriots—or traitors.
il Thank God, Illinois is not divided on this question. I know they expected to present a united South against a divided North. They hoped in the Northern States party questions would bring civil war between Democrats and Republicans, when the South would step in with her cohorts, aid one party to conquer the other, and then make easy prey of the victors. Their scheme was carnage and civil war in the North.
"There is but one way to defeat this. In Illinois it is being so defeated by closing up the ranks. War will thus be prevented on our own soil. While there was a hope for peace, I was ready for any reasonable sacrifice or compromise to maintain it. But when the question comes of war in the cotton fields of the South, or the corn fields of Illinois, I say the further off the better.
"I have said more than I intended to say. It is a sad task to discuss questions so fearful as civil war; but sad as it is, bloody and disastrous as I expect it will be, I express it as my conviction before God, that it is the duty of every American citizen to rally around the flag of his country.
"I thank you again for this magnificent demonstration. By it you show you have laid aside party strife. Illinois has a proud position—united, firm, determined never to permit the government to be destroyed."
The uprising of the people tendered to the Government all it wanted of men and means, only asking that there should be a short, sharp, earnest campaign, the speedy suppression of rebellion and the restoration of the Union.
From the outset the people were in advance of the calls of the government. They asked the privilege of going into war. They tendered brigades where the administration only asked for regiments. This uprising, on a scale of such grandeur, and with spirit so intense, was evidently unexpected to secessionists. They had so long vaunted themselves the masters of "Northern mudsills," that they had ended, greatly to their cost, in believing it themselves, and thought they had but to frown and Northern men would fly trembling to their retreats. They further expected Northern divisions to so weaken us as to counterbalance our numerical supremacy.
But instead of these things, they saw an outburst of military enthusiasm. They saw the nation of tradesmen suddenly a nation of soldiers, and a United Noeth ready to do them battle for right of constitutional authority and for the majesty of law. And seeing that, they knew war awaited them, stern and uncompromising war, and they girded themselves to meet it.