Lincoln

Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
Source Type
Secondary
Year
1995
Publication Type
Book
Citation:
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 240.
Body Summary:
It was also a superb political move for an unannounced presidential aspirant. Appearing in [William] Seward’s home state, sponsored by a group largely loyal to [Salmon] Chase, Lincoln shrewdly made no reference to either of these Republican rivals for the nomination. Recognizing that if the Republicans were going to win in 1860 they needed the support of men who had voted for [Millard] Fillmore in the previous election, Lincoln in his Cooper Union address stressed his conservatism. He did not mention his house-divided thesis or Seward’s irrepressible-conflict prediction; Republicans were presented as a party of moderates who were simply trying to preserve the legacy of the Founding Fathers against the radical assaults of the proslavery element. Even Lincoln’s language contributed to the effect he sought; the careful structure of the speech, the absence of incendiary rhetoric, even the laborious recital of the voting records of the Founding Fathers, all suggested reasonableness and stability, not wide-eyed fanaticism. In short, it was, as one of the sponsors wrote, an enormous success. Sending Lincoln the agreed-upon fee of $200, he added, “I would that it were $200,000 for you are worthy of it.”
Citation:
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 209.
Body Summary:
Thus the three sections of Lincoln’s house divided speech had the inevitability of a syllogism: The tendency to nationalize slavery had to be defeated. Stephen A. Douglas powerfully contributed to that tendency. Therefore, Stephen A. Douglas had to be defeated. Attracting national attention, Lincoln’s house-divided speech sounded very radical. Advanced five months before William H. Seward offered his prediction of an “irrepressible conflict” between slavery and freedom, it was the most extreme statement made by any responsible leader of the Republican party. Even [William Henry] Herndon, to whom Lincoln first read it, told his partner: “It is true, but is it wise or politic to say so?" As the editor John Locke Scripps explained, many who heard or read Lincoln’s speech understood it as “an implied pledge on behalf of the Republican party to make war upon the institution in the States where it now exists.” Aware that his house-divided prediction was controversial, Lincoln in the months ahead tried to blunt its impact, telling Scripps “that whether the clause used by me, will bear such construction or not, I never so intended it.” In this passage, he insisted, “I did not say I was in favor of anything…I made a prediction only – it may have been a foolish one perhaps.” But he never disavowed it; he knew it was the necessary first premise in his syllogism proving that Douglas should be defeated.
Citation:
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 202.
Body Summary:
It was a powerful speech, but not a radical one. Indeed, Gustave Koerner, the German-American leader of the Republicans in Bellville, complained that it was “too much on the old conservative order” and concluded that Lincoln was “an excellent man, but no match to such impudent Jesuits and sophists as [Senator Stephen] Douglas.” What Lincoln omitted from his argument was as significant as what he said. Though many observers recognized that the Dred Scott decision had gutted Douglas’s favorite doctrine of popular sovereignty by invalidating all congressional legislation concerning slavery in the national territories, Lincoln made no effort to point out the contradiction between the ideas of the Chief Justice and those of the senior senator from Illinois; nor did he discuss Douglas’s theory that territorial governments, despite the Court’s ruling in Dred Scott, could effectively exclude slavery by refusing to protect it. Lincoln’s object was not to show differences between the two Democratic spokesmen but to picture them as united in oppressing the African-American and in extending the institution of slavery.
Citation:
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 223-224.
Body Summary:
On the day after the Quincy debate, both Lincoln and Douglas got aboard the City of Louisiana and sailed down the Mississippi River to Alton, for the final encounter of the campaign. Looking haggard with fatigue, Douglas opened the debate on October 15 in a voice so hoarse that in the early part of his speech he could scarcely be heard. After briefly reviewing the standard arguments over which he and Lincoln had differed since the beginning of the campaign, he made the peculiar decision to devote most of his speech to a detailed defense of his course on Lecompton. He concluded with a rabble-rousing attack on the racial views he attributed to Republicans and an announcement “that the signers of the Declaration of Independence…did not mean Negro, nor the savage Indians, nor the Fejee Islanders, nor any other barbarous race,” when they issued that document. In his reply Lincoln said that he was happy to ignore Douglas’s long account of his feud with the Buchanan administration; he felt like the put-upon wife in an old jestbook, who stood by as her husband struggled with a bear, saying, “Go it, husband! – Go it bear!” Once again he went through his standard answers to Douglas’s charges against him and the Republican party. Recognizing that at Alton he was addressing “an audience, having strong sympathies southward by relationship, place of birth, and so on,” he tried to explain why it was so important to keep slavery out of Kansas and other national territories….With a brief rejoinder by Douglas, the debates were ended. After that both candidates made a few more speeches to local rallies, but everybody realized that the campaign was over, and the decision now lay with the voters.
Citation:
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 220-221.
Body Summary:
At Charleston, three days later, [Abraham Lincoln] was on more hospitable ground. Many in Coles County had known Thomas Lincoln and his family, and some enthusiasts spread a gigantic painting, eighty feet long, across the main street, showing OLD ABE THIRTY YEARS AGO, on a Kentucky wagon pulled by three yoke of oxen. Democrats countered with a banner, captioned “Negro Equality,” which depicted a white man standing with a Negro woman, and a mulatto boy in the background. Republicans found this so offensive that they tore it down before allowing the debate to begin. Lincoln picked up on that theme in his opening remarks. He had, he said, recently been approached by an elderly man who wanted to know whether he was in favor of perfect equality between blacks and whites. This probably hypothetical inquiry gave him the opportunity to make his views explicit in a community where conservative old Whigs were strong. “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races,” he announced…This was a politically expedient thing to say in a state where the majority of the inhabitants were of Southern origin; perhaps it was necessary thing to say in a state where only ten years earlier 70 percent of the voters had favored a constitutional amendment to exclude all blacks from Illinois. It also represented Lincoln’s deeply held personal views, which he had repeatedly expressed before. Opposed to slavery throughout his life, he had given little thought to the status of free African-Americans. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he was not personally hostile to free blacks….But he did not know whether they could ever fit into a free society, and, rather vaguely, he continued to think of colonization as the best solution to the American race problem.
Citation:
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 228.
Body Summary:
Though Republicans won in the popular vote (and elected their candidates for state treasurer and superintendent of education), they did not gain control of the state legislature, which would choose the next senator. In the state senate, thirteen members were holdovers (the terms of senators were staggered), and eight of these were Democrats. That meant that, in order to have a majority in a joint session of the two houses, the Republicans needed to have more than half the members in the new house or representatives. But seats in the house were apportioned according to the population in the 1850 census. In the years since 1850 the northern section of the state, where the Republicans were strongest, had grown much more rapidly than the southern counties, which the Democrats controlled. Because of the apportionment law, Republicans, who received about 50 percent of the popular vote, won only 47 percent of the seats in the house, while the Democrats with 48 percent of the popular vote gained 53 percent of the seats. That seemed unfair, but even if representation had been apportioned exactly on the basis of population, the Republicans would still have won only 44 seats - not enough, even when their five holdover senators were added, to elect Lincoln. In the balloting on January 5, 1859, Douglas received 54 votes to Lincoln’s 46 and was thus reelected for another six years to the United States Senate.
Citation:
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 218-219.
Body Summary:
At Freeport, Lincoln was clearly more in charge than he had been at Ottawa, only a week earlier. Before this sympathetic “vast audience as strongly tending to Abolitionism as any audience in the State of Illinois,” he turned first to answering the interrogatories Douglas posed at Ottawa. His answers contained no surprises…Then, finally taking the offensive, he posed to Douglas four questions of his own – four questions that were much like those that his Chicago advisers had recommended. First, would Douglas favor the admission of Kansas before it had the requisite number of inhabitants, as specified in the English bill? Second, could “the people of a United States Territory, in any lawful way,…exclude slavery from its limits prior to the formation of a State Constitution?” Third, would Douglas acquiesce in and follow a decision of the Supreme Court declaring that states could not exclude slavery from their limits? Finally, did he favor acquisition of additional territory “in disregard of how such acquisition may affect the nation on the slavery question?” The second was the key question. Through advisors like [Joseph] Medill urged him to raise it, Lincoln had hesitated before asking it. He was in no doubt about how Douglas would answer it; and, just as he expected, Douglas promptly replied that the passage of “unfriendly legislation” could keep slavery out of any territory because “slavery cannot exist a day or an hour anywhere, unless it is supported by local police regulations.”… But by showing how greatly at odds Douglas was with the National Democracy, Lincoln risked undermining his basic argument that Douglas was part of a broad conspiracy to extend and perpetuate slavery. Nevertheless, pressed to take the offensive and realizing that this question might rattle his opponent, Lincoln decided to include the question.
Citation:
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (New York: Touchstone, 1996), 211.
Body Summary:
Lincoln changed his battle plan after Douglas began devoting more and more time on the stump to attacking Lyman Trumbull, who had accused him of a corrupt bargain in the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. Seeing that this personal quarrel would divert public attention from his own campaign he proposed a series of debates with Douglas. The senator was reluctant to agree. He had nothing to gain and much to lose by giving public exposure to his lesser-known rival. Lincoln's challenge came too late, he complained; he already had a heavy schedule of speaking appointments and he might also be asked to divide time with a potential third candidate, nominated by Democrats loyal to [President James] Buchanan. At the same time, Douglas knew he could not refuse, lest he seem afraid of Lincoln. Grudgingly he consented to participate in seven debates - one in each of the Illinois congressional districts, except the second and sixth (Chicago and Springfield), where the two candidates had already appeared.
How to Cite This Page: "Lincoln," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/index.php/node/14784.