SENATORIAL CANVASS IN ILLINOIS
Charleston, Coles Co., Ills.
Sept. 18, 1858
The fourth joint debate between Douglas and Lincoln has just closed. Charleston is located on the line of the Terre Haute, Alton, and St. Louis Railroad, some ten miles East of the Illinois Central. It is a pleasant town of some antiquity for Illinois, and at the center of a region which is rather prolific in Republicans. The meeting today was larger than the first debate at Ottawa, and almost equal to the second debate at Freeport.—This one fact shows the interest which this campaign is taking on. Here, in a " rural district " with only one railroad and one special train, the turnout of the populace has ranked with the great meetings in the thickly settled northern portions of the State, intersected by railroads and steamboats routes, all pouring their special trains upon a common center. "The prairies are on fire" and all parties partake of the general enthusiasm.
These demonstrations are in the main alike, but this at Charleston has been in some particulars in advance of others. The display of banners and mottoes was unusually large. Across the main street were suspended three flags bearing Lincoln's name and a huge white banner bearing on one side the words, " Coles County for Lincoln " and on the other an immense painting representing a man driving a team of six horses. This was " Abe " as he appeared thirty years ago, when he drove a wagon across the county; then a poor teamster, unnoticed and unknown; now the object of almost idolatrous devotion from the people of the same county. Innumerable other banners and devices, expressive of like feeling were carried.
Mr. Lincoln spent the night at Mattoon, ten miles distant, and was escorted thence by the entire town in wagons. From Charleston there went forth a large delegation and with it the pleasantest feature of the occasion; a large wagon covered with a canopy, was decorated with blue and white cloth, festoons of leaves and wreaths of flowers. Inside were thirty-one young ladies, dressed in white; on their blue velvet caps were wreaths of green and a silver star. Each young lady waved a white banner with the name of a state upon it. Behind was a young lady on horseback, bearing the banner " Kansas—I will be free." (I may here remark, in passing, an unfortunate decoration for a young lady.) Following her were thirty-one young men on horseback. The wagon containing the young ladies had upon one side, " Lincoln, Oglesby, Marshall, Craddock, " and on the other
"Westward, the star of Empire takes its way, The girls link-on to Lincoln, as their mothers did to Clay."
As the procession arrived and made its way through the dense 'Crowd the young ladies were greeted with immense cheers, to which they responded by waving their banners. Mr. Lincoln in his reception speech, gracefully alluded to this spectacle as "a, basket of flowers. " Mr. Douglas, too, spent the night at Mattoon, and came over with his friends. A wagon with thirteen young ladies met him in procession and these were followed by thirty-one young ladies on horseback, attended by as many gentlemen. Oh! how fearfully dusty candidates and cavalcades were when they arrived in front of the hotels. The two wagons I have mentioned were drawn upon the •grounds, where the most intense enthusiasm was manifested at their appearance.