Jasper L. Douthit, "Lincoln in 1858," Hartford (CT) Courant, October 3, 1906, p.14.
Lincoln in 1858
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LINCOLN IN 1858.
An Illinoisian Who Was There Remembers Him.
(Jasper L. Douthit in Christian Register.)
The Last time I saw Mr. Lincoln and heard him speak was during the famous debates in Illinois between him and Senator Douglas, during 1858. He spoke in a circus tent at Hillsboro, Ill. I see him now as he walked into the tent at the further end from where I was seated. His trousers were baggy at the knees, and he looked like some ungainly giant. A crowd was around him, but he seemed a head taller than the rest. He and Douglas didn’t meet to debate there. Douglas came a few days before and made his speech to an immense crowd out in a grove for the weather was fair. But the day appointed for Lincoln threatened rain, so that the circus tent was engaged for him. He hadn’t spoken but a little while till the rain poured down in torrents and drove the people off their seats to stand close around the speaker’s stand in the middle of the tent arena. Some one suggested that they stop the meeting till the rain was over, but the crowd cried: “Oh, no! Go on, go on!” Lincoln did “go on” for nearly two hours, and the people kept crowding closer and closer to him as if they were hypnotized. As when I first heard him in the court-house, Shelbyville, Mr. Lincoln seemed to nie to grow taller and his face became more radiant the longer he spoke, I was again deeply impressed with his good humor and fairness to opponents. I remember what he said of Senator Douglas’s theory of “Popular Sovereignty”: that is, the right of the people to vote slavery up or down in the territories. “The fact is,” said Lincoln, “Judge Douglas’s theory of popular sovereignty seems to me about as thin as the soup made from the shadow of a starved pigeon.”
In that same speech I remember him saying: “There is an honest old man down in Georgia by the name of Toombs. He boasts that he will call the roll of his slaves at the foot of Bunker Hill Monument. Dear fellow, he little knows the temper of the Northern people upon the subject of slavery, or he’d never make such a bonet at that.” Up to the time I heard that speech of Mr. Lincoln I had had been a Douglas democrat, though opposed to slavery and an advocate of total abstinence. But, when Senator Douglas spoke in Hillsboro, I saw him sadly under the influence of liquor. They made a banquet for him at night where wine and whiskey flowed shame-fully. When Lincoln came, his friends proposed a banquet for him, and were, going to have liquors. But Lincoln protested. He said his friends would please him best if they furnished no drinks that would intoxicate, and they obeyed him.