_____ Johnson to William H. Herndon, 1865-66, in Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis, eds., Herndon’s Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1998), 462-464.
Transcription adapted from Herndon’s Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln (1998), edited by Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis
Adapted by Don Sailer, Dickinson College
The following transcript has been adapted from Herndon’s Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln (1998).
You ask me to put upon paper, what I saw of Mr. Lincoln, while at Decatur Republican Convention, early in the Spring of 1860. For some reason, to me now, and perhaps, then unknown, there was an intense interest felt in what was to be done by that Convention. And each County sent up large numbers of delegates even if they had only few votes to cast. There too was gathered most of the choice political spirits of Illinois of the Republican party. The meeting had been organized but a short time when a gentleman ([Richard] Oglesby I think), rose to say that he “was informed that a distinguished citizen of Illinois – and one whom Illinois would ever delight to honor was present, at the meeting, and he wished to move that this body invite him to a seat on the Stand.” Here as if knowing that an outburst would follow, the Speaker seemed purposely to delay mentioning any name, as if to tease expectation to the verge of desperation. At last he said he alluded to Mr Lincoln. The Storm of applause burst forth and loud – long and deep. As it subsided – the motion was seconded – and passed. I in the mean time, being near the door saw the then future President Sitting on his heels, just within the door of the Wigwam. Everybody in that vicinity, seemed inspired with a new born desire to get close to him – to take hold of him. I think he was seized and lifted to his feet. An effort was made to jam him through the crowd, towards the stage. This not succeeding as well as those immediately about him wished, he was “boosted” up until he found himself, kicking scrambling – crawling – upon the sea of heads between him and the Stand. The enthusiasm was at to high a pitch, for the ludicrousness of the scene, to have been generally noticed, or laughed at if seen…..