SENATORIAL CANVASS IN ILLINOIS
Lincoln and Douglas at Ottawa
[From our Special Correspondent]
Chicago, August 23, 1858
Saturday, the 21st, was the day of the first discussion between Lincoln and Douglas. It was held at Ottawa, a city of about 9,000 inhabitants, on the line of the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad and the Illinois canal, and at the junction of the Fox and Illinois rivers. I arrived late the night before at Ottawa, and was accommodated with a sofa at the hotel. The city was already even full. Saturday was a pleasant, but warm day, and Ottawa was deluged in dust. By wagon, by rail, by canal, the people poured in, till Ottawa was one mass of active life. Men, women, and children, old and young, the dwellers on the broad prairies, had turned their backs upon the plough, and had come to listen to these champions of the two parties. Military companies were out; martial music sounded, and salutes of artillery thundered in the air. Eager marshals in partisan sashes rode furiously about the streets. Peddlers were crying their wares at the corners, and excited groups of politicians were canvassing and quarreling everywhere. And still they came, the crowd swelling constantly in its proportions and growing more eager and more hungry, perhaps more thirsty, though every precaution was taken against this latter evil. About noon the rival processions were formed, and paraded the streets amid the cheers of the people. Mr. Lincoln was met at the depot by an immense crowd, who escorted him to the residence of the Mayor, with banners flying and mottoes waving their unfaltering attachment to him and to his cause. The Douglas turnout, though plentifully interspersed with the Hibernian element, was less noisy, and thus matters were arranged for the after-dinner demonstration in the Court House square, where the stand was erected, and where, under the blazing sun, unprotected by shade trees, and unprovided with seats, the audience was expected to congregate and hasten to the champions.
Two men presenting wider contrasts could hardly be found as the representatives of the two great parties. Everybody knows Douglas, a short, thick-set, burly man, with large round head, heavy hair, dark complexion, and fierce bull-dog bark. Strong in his own real power, and skilled by a thousand conflicts in all the strategy of a hand-tohand or a general fight. Of towering ambition, restless in his determined desire for notoriety; proud, defiant, arrogant, audacious, unscrupulous, "Little Dug," ascended the platform and looked out impudently and carelessly on the immense throng which surged and struggled before him. A native of Vermont, reared on a soil where no slave ever stood, trained to hard manual labor and schooled in early hardships, he came to Illinois a teacher, and from one post to another had risen to his present eminence. Forgetful of the ancestral hatred of slavery to which he was the heir, he had come to be a holder of slaves and to owe much of his fame to his continued subservience to southern influence.
The other—Lincoln—is a native of Kentucky, and of poor white parentage; and from his cradle has felt the blighting influence of the dark and cruel shadow which rendered labor dishonorable, and kept the poor in poverty, while it advanced the rich in their possessions. Reared in poverty and the humblest aspirations, he left his native state, crossed the line into Illinois, and began his career of honorable toil. At first a laborer, splitting rails for a living—deficient in education, and applying himself even to the rudiments of knowledge—he, too, felt the expanding power of his American manhood, and began to achieve the greatness to which he has succeeded. With great difficulty struggling through the tedious formularies of legal lore, he was admitted to the bar, and rapidly made his way to the front ranks of his profession. Honored by the people with office, he is still the same honest and reliable man. He volunteers in the Black Hawk war, and does the state good service in its sorest need. In every relation of life, socially and to the State, Mr. Lincoln has been always the pure and honest man. In physique he is the opposite to Douglas. Built on the Kentucky type, he is very tall, slender and angular, awkward even, in gait and attitude. His face is sharp, large-featured and unprepossessing. His eyes are deep set, under heavy brows; his forehead is high and retreating, and his hair is dark and heavy. In repose, I must confess that " Long Abe's " appearance is not comely. But stir him up, and the fire of his genius plays on every feature. His eye glows and sparkles, every lineament, now so ill formed, grows brilliant and expressive, and you have before you a man of rare power and of strong magnetic influence. He takes the people every time, and there is no getting away from his sturdy good sense, his unaffected sincerity, and the unceasing play of his good humor, which accompanies his close logic and smoothes the way to conviction. Listening to him on Saturday, calmly and unprejudiced, I was convinced that he has no superior as a stump speaker. He is clear, concise and logical; his language is eloquent and at perfect command. He is altogether a more fluent speaker than Douglas, and in all the arts of debate fully his equal. The Repubhcans of Illinois have chosen a champion worthy of their heartiest support, and fully equipped for the conflict.