When events demand a new party, or the reorganization of an old one, all resistance is usually borne down speedily. On the other hand, it is a wasteful exhibition of human power to attempt the creation of a new party by the force of combined will and resolutions formulated in public meetings. Abraham Lincoln's greater experience or keener penetration, or both, guided him at the outset of the realignments on political issues, and at the opening of the Congressional campaign of 1858, I followed him firmly and without mental reservation into the ranks of the Republican party.
Hence it was that I was present on that historic occasion when the Republican party of the State of Illinois held a convention at Springfield June 17 of the year named, and nominated Lincoln for the seat in the United States Senate, then held by Stephen A Douglas, who at that time was usually affectionately referred to by his partisan followers as “The Little Giant.” This nomination was anticipated, and Mr. Lincoln had prepared a speech, which he then delivered, in which he set forth, in a manner now universally recognized as masterly, the doctrines of the Republican party. He arraigned the administration of Mr. Buchanan and denounced the repeal of the Missouri Compromise under the lead of Senator Douglas. In that speech he made the declaration, which I remember as clearly as though an event of yesterday, then characterized as extravagant but long since accepted as prophetic: “I believe this Government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free.”
That address inaugurated a discussion which has no exact parallel in history – certainly no equal in American political history. It introduced Mr. Lincoln to the country at large, and prepared the way for his nomination to the Presidency two years later. On the declaration above quoted Mr. Douglas based many arguments, in vain attempts to prove that Mr. Lincoln was a disunionist.