Recollection by Mary Hastie Boutelle, Galesburg Debate, October 7, 1858

    Source citation
    Mary Hastie Boutelle, "Coal Diggers for Lincoln," Galesburg (IL) Republican Register, September 15, 1908 [courtesy of the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College]
    Author (from)
    Boutelle, Mary Hastie
    Newspaper: Publication
    Republican Register
    Date Certainty
    Adapted by David Park, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    I attended the Lincoln-Douglas debate in Galesburg in 1858. We lived on a farm near Wataga. My father, James Hastie, who was a staunch Republican, my mother, two brothers and myself rode to Galesburg the day of the debate in a lumber wagon, which was almost the only mode of conveyance at that time. I think there was no delegation from Wataga, but wagons were coming from every direction, and by the time we reached Main street there was quite a long procession. In front of us was a wagon filled with coal “diggers,” as they were then called, they carried a large banner on which was inscribed, “Coal Diggers of Wataga for Lincoln.” When we passed a hotel on the south side of Main street, I don’t remember the name, Lincoln was on the upper balcony surrounded by friends, he responded by a bow, and smile, to our greetings which consisted of cheers, waving of flags, and handkerchiefs. When the coal miners passed the hotel, the man who carried the banner, stood upon the seat and held the banner as high as possible, while his companions cheered. I thought Lincoln seemed more pleased with them, than any others who were passing while I saw him. We came down in the morning, and ate our lunch at the side of the East Brick on the college campus. I remember a feeling of sympathy for Douglas, because he had to speak directly under the inscription “Knox College for Lincoln” until I saw an elegant banner, which bore the inscription, “Lombard College for Douglas,” which I thought equalized on matters somewhat. Another banner which I recall had these words Douglas the Dead Dog—Lincoln the Living Lion.” We had to stand during the debate, and we were as near the speakers as we dared to be in such a great crowd. Douglas opened the debate, but he was hoarse from speaking in the open air, and could not make himself understood for any great distance. I supposed it would be the same with Lincoln, but his voice rang out clear as a bell, and I could understand every word. I remember his opening sentence, perhaps I cannot repeat it verbatim, but this is the substance of it. “The speech of my opponent has been delivered before, and has been put in print,” this caused great laughter, but Lincoln raised his right hand, and said, “Hold my friends, I did not intend that for a hit. I was about to say that such a reply as I was able to make has also been put in print.” He pronounced “put” with the short sound of u as in putty, which perhaps is one reason I remember it so well. I remained standing until Lincoln had finished speaking, by that time I was so tired. It seemed impossible to stand any longer, so I did not hear Douglas’ closing speech. Oct. 7th, 1858 was a great day in Galesburg, and I am very glad the 50th anniversary I to be observed. I expect to attend the celebration, and hope the plans which are being made will be carried out. I think it would be ideal if Jules Lombard could be here to sing on that occasion.

    Omaha, Neb.

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