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The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Complete by Abraham Lincoln

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"To be independent for the comforts of life, we must fabricate
them ourselves. We must now place the manufacturer by the side
of the agriculturalist. The grand inquiry now is, Shall we make
our own comforts, or go without them at the will of a foreign
nation? He, therefore, who is now against domestic manufactures
must be for reducing us either to dependence on that foreign
nation, or to be clothed in skins and to live like wild beasts in
dens and caverns. I am not one of those; experience has taught
me that manufactures are now as necessary to our independence as
to our comfort." Letter of Mr. Jefferson to Benjamin Austin.

"I ask, What is the real situation of the agriculturalist? Where
has the American farmer a market for his surplus produce? Except
for cotton, he has neither a foreign nor a home market. Does not
this clearly prove, when there is no market at home or abroad,
that there [is] too much labor employed in agriculture? Common
sense at once points out the remedy. Take from agriculture six
hundred thousand men, women, and children, and you will at once
give a market for more breadstuffs than all Europe now furnishes.
In short, we have been too long subject to the policy of British
merchants. It is time we should become a little more
Americanized, and instead of feeding the paupers and laborers of
England, feed our own; or else in a short time, by continuing our
present policy, we shall all be rendered paupers ourselves." --
General Jackson's Letter to Dr. Coleman.

"When our manufactures are grown to a certain perfection, as they
soon will be, under the fostering care of government, the farmer
will find a ready market for his surplus produce, and--what is of
equal consequence--a certain and cheap supply of all he wants;
his prosperity will diffuse itself to every class of the
community." Speech of Hon. J. C. Calhoun on the Tariff.

The question of revenue we will now briefly consider. For
several years past the revenues of the government have been
unequal to its expenditures, and consequently loan after loan,
sometimes direct and sometimes indirect in form, has been
resorted to. By this means a new national debt has been created,
and is still growing on us with a rapidity fearful to
contemplate--a rapidity only reasonably to be expected in time of
war. This state of things has been produced by a prevailing
unwillingness either to increase the tariff or resort to direct
taxation. But the one or the other must come. Coming
expenditures must be met, and the present debt must be paid; and
money cannot always be borrowed for these objects. The system of
loans is but temporary in its nature, and must soon explode. It
is a system not only ruinous while it lasts, but one that must
soon fail and leave us destitute. As an individual who
undertakes to live by borrowing soon finds his original means
devoured by interest, and, next, no one left to borrow from, so
must it be with a government.

We repeat, then, that a tariff sufficient for revenue, or a
direct tax, must soon be resorted to; and, indeed, we believe
this alternative is now denied by no one. But which system shall
be adopted? Some of our opponents, in theory, admit the propriety
of a tariff sufficient for a revenue, but even they will not in
practice vote for such a tariff; while others boldly advocate
direct taxation. Inasmuch, therefore, as some of them boldly
advocate direct taxation, and all the rest--or so nearly all as
to make exceptions needless--refuse to adopt the tariff, we think
it is doing them no injustice to class them all as advocates of
direct taxation. Indeed, we believe they are only delaying an
open avowal of the system till they can assure themselves that
the people will tolerate it. Let us, then, briefly compare the
two systems. The tariff is the cheaper system, because the
duties, being collected in large parcels at a few commercial
points, will require comparatively few officers in their
collection; while by the direct-tax system the land must be
literally covered with assessors and collectors, going forth like
swarms of Egyptian locusts, devouring every blade of grass and
other green thing. And, again, by the tariff system the whole
revenue is paid by the consumers of foreign goods, and those
chiefly the luxuries, and not the necessaries, of life. By this
system the man who contents himself to live upon the products of
his own country pays nothing at all. And surely that country is
extensive enough, and its products abundant and varied enough, to
answer all the real wants of its people. In short, by this
system the burthen of revenue falls almost entirely on the
wealthy and luxurious few, while the substantial and laboring
many who live at home, and upon home products, go entirely free.
By the direct-tax system none can escape. However strictly the
citizen may exclude from his premises all foreign luxuries,--fine
cloths, fine silks, rich wines, golden chains, and diamond
rings,--still, for the possession of his house, his barn, and his
homespun, he is to be perpetually haunted and harassed by the
tax-gatherer. With these views we leave it to be determined
whether we or our opponents are the more truly democratic on the

The third resolution declares the necessity and propriety of a
national bank. During the last fifty years so much has been said
and written both as to the constitutionality and expediency of
such an institution, that we could not hope to improve in the
least on former discussions of the subject, were we to undertake
it. We, therefore, upon the question of constitutionality
content ourselves with remarking the facts that the first
national bank was established chiefly by the same men who formed
the Constitution, at a time when that instrument was but two
years old, and receiving the sanction, as President, of the
immortal Washington; that the second received the sanction, as
President, of Mr. Madison, to whom common consent has awarded the
proud title of "Father of the Constitution"; and subsequently the
sanction of the Supreme Court, the most enlightened judicial
tribunal in the world. Upon the question of expediency, we only
ask you to examine the history of the times during the existence
of the two banks, and compare those times with the miserable

The fourth resolution declares the expediency of Mr. Clay's land
bill. Much incomprehensible jargon is often used against the
constitutionality of this measure. We forbear, in this place,
attempting an answer to it, simply because, in our opinion, those
who urge it are through party zeal resolved not to see or
acknowledge the truth. The question of expediency, at least so
far as Illinois is concerned, seems to us the clearest
imaginable. By the bill we are to receive annually a large sum
of money, no part of which we otherwise receive. The precise
annual sum cannot be known in advance; it doubtless will vary in
different years. Still it is something to know that in the last
year--a year of almost unparalleled pecuniary pressure--it
amounted to more than forty thousand dollars. This annual
income, in the midst of our almost insupportable difficulties, in
the days of our severest necessity, our political opponents are
furiously resolving to take and keep from us. And for what?
Many silly reasons are given, as is usual in cases where a single
good one is not to be found. One is that by giving us the
proceeds of the lands we impoverish the national treasury, and
thereby render necessary an increase of the tariff. This may be
true; but if so, the amount of it only is that those whose pride,
whose abundance of means, prompt them to spurn the manufactures
of our country, and to strut in British cloaks and coats and
pantaloons, may have to pay a few cents more on the yard for the
cloth that makes them. A terrible evil, truly, to the Illinois
farmer, who never wore, nor ever expects to wear, a single yard
of British goods in his whole life. Another of their reasons is
that by the passage and continuance of Mr. Clay's bill, we
prevent the passage of a bill which would give us more. This, if
it were sound in itself, is waging destructive war with the
former position; for if Mr. Clay's bill impoverishes the treasury
too much, what shall be said of one that impoverishes it still
more? But it is not sound in itself. It is not true that Mr.
Clay's bill prevents the passage of one more favorable to us of
the new States. Considering the strength and opposite interest
of the old States, the wonder is that they ever permitted one to
pass so favorable as Mr. Clay's. The last twenty-odd years'
efforts to reduce the price of the lands, and to pass graduation
bills and cession bills, prove the assertion to be true; and if
there were no experience in support of it, the reason itself is
plain. The States in which none, or few, of the public lands
lie, and those consequently interested against parting with them
except for the best price, are the majority; and a moment's
reflection will show that they must ever continue the majority,
because by the time one of the original new States (Ohio, for
example) becomes populous and gets weight in Congress, the public
lands in her limits are so nearly sold out that in every point
material to this question she becomes an old State. She does not
wish the price reduced, because there is none left for her
citizens to buy; she does not wish them ceded to the States in
which they lie, because they no longer lie in her limits, and she
will get nothing by the cession. In the nature of things, the
States interested in the reduction of price, in graduation, in
cession, and in all similar projects, never can be the majority.
Nor is there reason to hope that any of them can ever succeed as
a Democratic party measure, because we have heretofore seen that
party in full power, year after year, with many of their leaders
making loud professions in favor of these projects, and yet doing
nothing. What reason, then, is there to believe they will
hereafter do better? In every light in which we can view this
question, it amounts simply to this: Shall we accept our share of
the proceeds under Mr. Clay's bill, or shall we rather reject
that and get nothing?

The fifth resolution recommends that a Whig candidate for
Congress be run in every district, regardless of the chances of
success. We are aware that it is sometimes a temporary
gratification, when a friend cannot succeed, to be able to choose
between opponents; but we believe that that gratification is the
seed-time which never fails to be followed by a most abundant
harvest of bitterness. By this policy we entangle ourselves. By
voting for our opponents, such of us as do it in some measure
estop ourselves to complain of their acts, however glaringly
wrong we may believe them to be. By this policy no one portion
of our friends can ever be certain as to what course another
portion may adopt; and by this want of mutual and perfect
understanding our political identity is partially frittered away
and lost. And, again, those who are thus elected by our aid ever
become our bitterest persecutors. Take a few prominent examples.
In 1830 Reynolds was elected Governor; in 1835 we exerted our
whole strength to elect Judge Young to the United States Senate,
which effort, though failing, gave him the prominence that
subsequently elected him; in 1836 General Ewing, was so elected
to the United States Senate; and yet let us ask what three men
have been more perseveringly vindictive in their assaults upon
all our men and measures than they? During the last summer the
whole State was covered with pamphlet editions of
misrepresentations against us, methodized into chapters and
verses, written by two of these same men,--Reynolds and Young, in
which they did not stop at charging us with error merely, but
roundly denounced us as the designing enemies of human liberty,
itself. If it be the will of Heaven that such men shall
politically live, be it so; but never, never again permit them to
draw a particle of their sustenance from us.

The sixth resolution recommends the adoption of the convention
system for the nomination of candidates. This we believe to be
of the very first importance. Whether the system is right in
itself we do not stop to inquire; contenting ourselves with
trying to show that, while our opponents use it, it is madness in
us not to defend ourselves with it. Experience has shown that we
cannot successfully defend ourselves without it. For examples,
look at the elections of last year. Our candidate for governor,
with the approbation of a large portion of the party, took the
field without a nomination, and in open opposition to the system.
Wherever in the counties the Whigs had held conventions and
nominated candidates for the Legislature, the aspirants who were
not nominated were induced to rebel against the nominations, and
to become candidates, as is said, "on their own hook." And, go
where you would into a large Whig county, you were sure to find
the Whigs not contending shoulder to shoulder against the common
enemy, but divided into factions, and fighting furiously with one
another. The election came, and what was the result? The
governor beaten, the Whig vote being decreased many thousands
since 1840, although the Democratic vote had not increased any.
Beaten almost everywhere for members of the Legislature,--
Tazewell, with her four hundred Whig majority, sending a
delegation half Democratic; Vermillion, with her five hundred,
doing the same; Coles, with her four hundred, sending two out of
three; and Morgan, with her two hundred and fifty, sending three
out of four,--and this to say nothing of the numerous other less
glaring examples; the whole winding up with the aggregate number
of twenty-seven Democratic representatives sent from Whig
counties. As to the senators, too, the result was of the same
character. And it is most worthy to be remembered that of all
the Whigs in the State who ran against the regular nominees, a
single one only was elected. Although they succeeded in
defeating the nominees almost by scores, they too were defeated,
and the spoils chucklingly borne off by the common enemy.

We do not mention the fact of many of the Whigs opposing the
convention system heretofore for the purpose of censuring them.
Far from it. We expressly protest against such a conclusion. We
know they were generally, perhaps universally, as good and true
Whigs as we ourselves claim to be.

We mention it merely to draw attention to the disastrous result
it produced, as an example forever hereafter to be avoided. That
"union is strength" is a truth that has been known, illustrated,
and declared in various ways and forms in all ages of the world.
That great fabulist and philosopher Aesop illustrated it by his
fable of the bundle of sticks; and he whose wisdom surpasses that
of all philosophers has declared that "a house divided against
itself cannot stand." It is to induce our friends to act upon
this important and universally acknowledged truth that we urge
the adoption of the convention system. Reflection will prove
that there is no other way of practically applying it. In its
application we know there will be incidents temporarily painful;
but, after all, those incidents will be fewer and less intense
with than without the system. If two friends aspire to the same
office it is certain that both cannot succeed. Would it not,
then, be much less painful to have the question decided by mutual
friends some time before, than to snarl and quarrel until the day
of election, and then both be beaten by the common enemy?

Before leaving this subject, we think proper to remark that we do
not understand the resolution as intended to recommend the
application of the convention system to the nomination of
candidates for the small offices no way connected with politics;
though we must say we do not perceive that such an application.
of it would be wrong.

The seventh resolution recommends the holding of district
conventions in May next, for the purpose of nominating candidates
for Congress. The propriety of this rests upon the same reasons
with that of the sixth, and therefore needs no further

The eighth and ninth also relate merely to the practical
application of the foregoing, and therefore need no discussion.

Before closing, permit us to add a few reflections on the present
condition and future prospects of the Whig party. In almost all
the States we have fallen into the minority, and despondency
seems to prevail universally among us. Is there just cause for
this? In 1840 we carried the nation by more than a hundred and
forty thousand majority. Our opponents charged that we did it by
fraudulent voting; but whatever they may have believed, we know
the charge to be untrue. Where, now, is that mighty host? Have
they gone over to the enemy? Let the results of the late
elections answer. Every State which has fallen off from the Whig
cause since 1840 has done so not by giving more Democratic votes
than they did then, but by giving fewer Whig. Bouck, who was
elected Democratic Governor of New York last fall by more than
15,000 majority, had not then as many votes as he had in 1840,
when he was beaten by seven or eight thousand. And so has it
been in all the other States which have fallen away from our
cause. From this it is evident that tens of thousands in the
late elections have not voted at all. Who and what are they? is
an important question, as respects the future. They can come
forward and give us the victory again. That all, or nearly all,
of them are Whigs is most apparent. Our opponents, stung to
madness by the defeat of 1840, have ever since rallied with more
than their usual unanimity. It has not been they that have been
kept from the polls. These facts show what the result must be,
once the people again rally in their entire strength. Proclaim
these facts, and predict this result; and although unthinking
opponents may smile at us, the sagacious ones will "believe and
tremble." And why shall the Whigs not all rally again? Are
their principles less dear now than in 1840? Have any of their
doctrines since then been discovered to be untrue? It is true,
the victory of 1840 did not produce the happy results
anticipated; but it is equally true, as we believe, that the
unfortunate death of General Harrison was the cause of the
failure. It was not the election of General Harrison that was
expected to produce happy effects, but the measures to be adopted
by his administration. By means of his death, and the unexpected
course of his successor, those measures were never adopted. How
could the fruits follow? The consequences we always predicted
would follow the failure of those measures have followed, and are
now upon us in all their horrors. By the course of Mr. Tyler the
policy of our opponents has continued in operation, still leaving
them with the advantage of charging all its evils upon us as the
results of a Whig administration. Let none be deceived by this
somewhat plausible, though entirely false charge. If they ask us
for the sufficient and sound currency we promised, let them be
answered that we only promised it through the medium of a
national bank, which they, aided by Mr. Tyler, prevented our
establishing. And let them be reminded, too, that their own
policy in relation to the currency has all the time been, and
still is, in full operation. Let us then again come forth in our
might, and by a second victory accomplish that which death
prevented in the first. We can do it. When did the Whigs ever
fail if they were fully aroused and united? Even in single
States, under such circumstances, defeat seldom overtakes them.
Call to mind the contested elections within the last few years,
and particularly those of Moore and Letcher from Kentucky,
Newland and Graham from North Carolina, and the famous New Jersey
case. In all these districts Locofocoism had stalked omnipotent
before; but when the whole people were aroused by its enormities
on those occasions, they put it down, never to rise again.

We declare it to be our solemn conviction, that the Whigs are
always a majority of this nation; and that to make them always
successful needs but to get them all to the polls and to vote
unitedly. This is the great desideratum. Let us make every
effort to attain it. At every election, let every Whig act as
though he knew the result to depend upon his action. In the
great contest of 1840 some more than twenty one hundred thousand
votes were cast, and so surely as there shall be that many, with
the ordinary increase added, cast in 1844 that surely will a Whig
be elected President of the United States.


March 4, 1843.


SPRINGFIELD, March 7, 1843.


Your letter of this day was handed me by Mr. Miles. It is too
late now to effect the object you desire. On yesterday morning
the most of the Whig members from this district got together and
agreed to hold the convention at Tremont in Tazewell County. I
am sorry to hear that any of the Whigs of your county, or indeed
of any county, should longer be against conventions. On last
Wednesday evening a meeting of all the Whigs then here from all
parts of the State was held, and the question of the propriety.
of conventions was brought up and fully discussed, and at the end
of the discussion a resolution recommending the system of
conventions to all the Whigs of the State was unanimously
adopted. Other resolutions were also passed, all of which will
appear in the next Journal. The meeting also appointed a
committee to draft an address to the people of the State, which
address will also appear in the next journal.

In it you will find a brief argument in favor of conventions--and
although I wrote it myself I will say to you that it is
conclusive upon the point and can not be reasonably answered.
The right way for you to do is hold your meeting and appoint
delegates any how, and if there be any who will not take part,
let it be so. The matter will work so well this time that even
they who now oppose will come in next time.

The convention is to be held at Tremont on the 5th of April and
according to the rule we have adopted your county is to have
delegates--being double your representation.

If there be any good Whig who is disposed to stick out against
conventions get him at least to read the arguement in their
favor in the address.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, March 24, 1843.

DEAR SPEED:--We had a meeting of the Whigs of the county here on
last Monday to appoint delegates to a district convention; and
Baker beat me, and got the delegation instructed to go for him.
The meeting, in spite of my attempt to decline it, appointed me
one of the delegates; so that in getting Baker the nomination I
shall be fixed a good deal like a fellow who is made a groomsman
to a man that has cut him out and is marrying his own dear "gal."
About the prospects of your having a namesake at our town, can't
say exactly yet.



SPRINGFIELD, ILL., March 26, 1843.


Your letter of the a 3 d, was received on yesterday morning, and
for which (instead of an excuse, which you thought proper to ask)
I tender you my sincere thanks. It is truly gratifying to me to
learn that, while the people of Sangamon have cast me off, my old
friends of Menard, who have known me longest and best, stick to
me. It would astonish, if not amuse, the older citizens to learn
that I (a stranger, friendless, uneducated, penniless boy,
working on a flatboat at ten dollars per month) have been put
down here as the candidate of pride, wealth, and aristocratic
family distinction. Yet so, chiefly, it was. There was, too,
the strangest combination of church influence against me. Baker
is a Campbellite; and therefore, as I suppose, with few
exceptions got all that church. My wife has some relations in
the Presbyterian churches, and some with the Episcopal churches;
and therefore, wherever it would tell, I was set down as either
the one or the other, while it was everywhere contended that no
Christian ought to go for me, because I belonged to no church,
was suspected of being a deist, and had talked about fighting a
duel. With all these things, Baker, of course, had nothing to
do. Nor do I complain of them. As to his own church going for
him, I think that was right enough, and as to the influences I
have spoken of in the other, though they were very strong, it
would be grossly untrue and unjust to charge that they acted upon
them in a body or were very near so. I only mean that those
influences levied a tax of a considerable per cent. upon my
strength throughout the religious controversy. But enough of

You say that in choosing a candidate for Congress you have an
equal right with Sangamon, and in this you are undoubtedly
correct. In agreeing to withdraw if the Whigs of Sangamon should
go against me, I did not mean that they alone were worth
consulting, but that if she, with her heavy delegation, should be
against me, it would be impossible for me to succeed, and
therefore I had as well decline. And in relation to Menard
having rights, permit me fully to recognize them, and to express
the opinion that, if she and Mason act circumspectly, they will
in the convention be able so far to enforce their rights as to
decide absolutely which one of the candidates shall be
successful. Let me show the reason of this. Hardin, or some
other Morgan candidate, will get Putnam, Marshall, Woodford,
Tazewell, and Logan--making sixteen. Then you and Mason, having
three, can give the victory to either side.

You say you shall instruct your delegates for me, unless I
object. I certainly shall not object. That would be too
pleasant a compliment for me to tread in the dust. And besides,
if anything should happen (which, however, is not probable) by
which Baker should be thrown out of the fight, I would be at
liberty to accept the nomination if I could get it. I do,
however, feel myself bound not to hinder him in any way from
getting the nomination. I should despise myself were I to
attempt it. I think, then, it would be proper for your meeting
to appoint three delegates and to instruct them to go for some
one as the first choice, some one else as a second, and perhaps
some one as a third; and if in those instructions I were named as
the first choice, it would gratify me very much. If you wish to
hold the balance of power, it is important for you to attend to
and secure the vote of Mason also: You should be sure to have men
appointed delegates that you know you can safely confide in. If
yourself and James Short were appointed from your county, all
would be safe; but whether Jim's woman affair a year ago might
not be in the way of his appointment is a question. I don't know
whether you know it, but I know him to be as honorable a man as
there is in the world. You have my permission, and even request,
to show this letter to Short; but to no one else, unless it be a
very particular friend who you know will not speak of it.

Yours as ever,


P. S Will you write me again?


April 14, 1843.


I have heard it intimated that Baker has been attempting to get
you or Miles, or both of you, to violate the instructions of the
meeting that appointed you, and to go for him. I have insisted,
and still insist, that this cannot be true. Surely Baker would
not do the like. As well might Hardin ask me to vote for him in
the convention. Again, it is said there will be an attempt to
get up instructions in your county requiring you to go for Baker.
This is all wrong. Upon the same rule, Why might not I fly from
the decision against me in Sangamon, and get up instructions to
their delegates to go for me? There are at least twelve hundred
Whigs in the county that took no part, and yet I would as soon
put my head in the fire as to attempt it. Besides, if any one
should get the nomination by such extraordinary means, all
harmony in the district would inevitably be lost. Honest Whigs
(and very nearly all of them are honest) would not quietly abide
such enormities. I repeat, such an attempt on Baker's part
cannot be true. Write me at Springfield how the matter is.
Don't show or speak of this letter.



SPRINGFIELD, May 11, 1843.


Butler informs me that he received a letter from you, in which
you expressed some doubt whether the Whigs of Sangamon will
support you cordially. You may, at once, dismiss all fears on
that subject. We have already resolved to make a particular
effort to give you the very largest majority possible in our
county. From this, no Whig of the county dissents. We have many
objects for doing it. We make it a matter of honor and pride to
do it; we do it because we love the Whig cause; we do it because
we like you personally; and last, we wish to convince you that we
do not bear that hatred to Morgan County that you people have so
long seemed to imagine. You will see by the journals of this
week that we propose, upon pain of losing a barbecue, to give you
twice as great a majority in this county as you shall receive in
your own. I got up the proposal.

Who of the five appointed is to write the district address? I
did the labor of writing one address this year, and got thunder
for my reward. Nothing new here.

Yours as ever,


P. S.--I wish you would measure one of the largest of those
swords we took to Alton and write me the length of it, from tip
of the point to tip of the hilt, in feet and inches. I have a
dispute about the length.

A. L.




SPRINGFIELD, May 18, 1843.

DEAR SPEED:--Yours of the 9th instant is duly received, which I
do not meet as a "bore," but as a most welcome visitor. I will
answer the business part of it first.

In relation to our Congress matter here, you were right in
supposing I would support the nominee. Neither Baker nor I,
however, is the man, but Hardin, so far as I can judge from
present appearances. We shall have no split or trouble about the
matter; all will be harmony. In relation to the "coming events"
about which Butler wrote you, I had not heard one word before I
got your letter; but I have so much confidence in the judgment of
Butler on such a subject that I incline to think there may be
some reality in it. What day does Butler appoint? By the way,
how do "events" of the same sort come on in your family? Are you
possessing houses and lands, and oxen and asses, and men-servants
and maid-servants, and begetting sons and daughters? We are not
keeping house, but boarding at the Globe Tavern, which is very
well kept now by a widow lady of the name of Beck. Our room (the
same that Dr. Wallace occupied there) and boarding only costs us
four dollars a week. Ann Todd was married something more than a
year since to a fellow by the name of Campbell, and who, Mary
says, is pretty much of a "dunce," though he has a little money
and property. They live in Boonville, Missouri, and have not
been heard from lately enough for me to say anything about her
health. I reckon it will scarcely be in our power to visit
Kentucky this year. Besides poverty and the necessity of
attending to business, those "coming events," I suspect, would be
somewhat in the way. I most heartily wish you and your Fanny
would not fail to come. Just let us know the time, and we will
have a room provided for you at our house, and all be merry
together for a while. Be sure to give my respects to your mother
and family; assure her that if ever I come near her, I will not
fail to call and see her. Mary joins in sending love to your
Fanny and you.

Yours as ever,




SPRINGFIELD, May 21, 1844.

Knowing that you have correspondents enough, I have forborne to
trouble you heretofore; and I now only do so to get you to set a
matter right which has got wrong with one of our best friends.
It is old Uncle Thomas Campbell of Spring Creek--(Berlin P.O.).
He has received several documents from you, and he says they are
old newspapers and documents, having no sort of interest in them.
He is, therefore, getting a strong impression that you treat him
with disrespect. This, I know, is a mistaken impression; and you
must correct it. The way, I leave to yourself. Rob't W.
Canfield says he would like to have a document or two from you.

The Locos (Democrats) here are in considerable trouble about Van
Buren's letter on Texas, and the Virginia electors. They are
growing sick of the Tariff question; and consequently are much
confounded at V.B.'s cutting them off from the new Texas
question. Nearly half the leaders swear they won't stand it. Of
those are Ford, T. Campbell, Ewing, Calhoun and others. They
don't exactly say they won't vote for V.B., but they say he will
not be the candidate, and that they are for Texas anyhow.

As ever yours,




TO Gen. J. J. HARDIN, SPRINGFIELD, Jany. 19, 1845.


I do not wish to join in your proposal of a new plan for the
selection of a Whig candidate for Congress because:

1st. I am entirely satisfied with the old system under which you
and Baker were successively nominated and elected to Congress;
and because the Whigs of the district are well acquainted with
the system, and, so far as I know or believe, are well satisfied
with it. If the old system be thought to be vague, as to all the
delegates of the county voting the same way, or as to
instructions to them as to whom they are to vote for, or as to
filling vacancies, I am willing to join in a provision to make
these matters certain.

2d. As to your proposals that a poll shall be opened in every
precinct, and that the whole shall take place on the same day, I
do not personally object. They seem to me to be not unfair; and
I forbear to join in proposing them only because I choose to
leave the decision in each county to the Whigs of the county, to
be made as their own judgment and convenience may dictate.

3d. As to your proposed stipulation that all the candidates
shall remain in their own counties, and restrain their friends in
the same it seems to me that on reflection you will see the fact
of your having been in Congress has, in various ways, so spread
your name in the district as to give you a decided advantage in
such a stipulation. I appreciate your desire to keep down
excitement; and I promise you to "keep cool" under all

4th. I have already said I am satisfied with the old system
under which such good men have triumphed and that I desire no
departure from its principles. But if there must be a departure
from it, I shall insist upon a more accurate and just
apportionment of delegates, or representative votes, to the
constituent body, than exists by the old, and which you propose
to retain in your new plan. If we take the entire population of
the counties as shown by the late census, we shall see by the old
plan, and by your proposed new plan,

Morgan County, with a population 16,541, has but ....... 8 votes
While Sangamon with 18,697--2156 greater has but ....... 8 "
So Scott with 6553 has ................................. 4 "
While Tazewell with 7615 1062 greater has but .......... 4 "
So Mason with 3135 has ................................. 1 vote
While Logan with 3907, 772 greater, has but ............ 1 "

And so on in a less degree the matter runs through all the
counties, being not only wrong in principle, but the advantage of
it being all manifestly in your favor with one slight exception,
in the comparison of two counties not here mentioned.

Again, if we take the Whig votes of the counties as shown by the
late Presidential election as a basis, the thing is still worse.

It seems to me most obvious that the old system needs adjustment
in nothing so much as in this; and still, by your proposal, no
notice is taken of it. I have always been in the habit of
acceding to almost any proposal that a friend would make and I am
truly sorry that I cannot in this. I perhaps ought to mention
that some friends at different places are endeavoring to secure
the honor of the sitting of the convention at their towns
respectively, and I fear that they would not feel much
complimented if we shall make a bargain that it should sit

Yours as ever,


TO _________ WILLIAMS,

SPRINGFIELD, March 1, 1845.


The Supreme Court adjourned this morning for the term. Your
cases of Reinhardt vs. Schuyler, Bunce vs. Schuyler, Dickhut vs.
Dunell, and Sullivan vs. Andrews are continued. Hinman vs. Pope
I wrote you concerning some time ago. McNutt et al. vs. Bean and
Thompson is reversed and remanded.

Fitzpatrick vs. Brady et al. is reversed and remanded with leave
to complainant to amend his bill so as to show the real
consideration given for the land.

Bunce against Graves the court confirmed, wherefore, in
accordance with your directions, I moved to have the case
remanded to enable you to take a new trial in the court below.
The court allowed the motion; of which I am glad, and I guess you

This, I believe, is all as to court business. The canal men have
got their measure through the Legislature pretty much or quite in
the shape they desired. Nothing else now.

Yours as ever,




SPRINGFIELD, October 3, 1845

When I saw you at home, it was agreed that I should write to you
and your brother Madison. Until I then saw you I was not aware
of your being what is generally called an abolitionist, or, as
you call yourself, a Liberty man, though I well knew there were
many such in your country.

I was glad to hear that you intended to attempt to bring about,
at the next election in Putnam, a Union of the Whigs proper and
such of the Liberty men as are Whigs in principle on all
questions save only that of slavery. So far as I can perceive,
by such union neither party need yield anything on the point in
difference between them. If the Whig abolitionists of New York
had voted with us last fall, Mr. Clay would now be President,
Whig principles in the ascendant, and Texas not annexed; whereas,
by the division, all that either had at stake in the contest was
lost. And, indeed, it was extremely probable, beforehand, that
such would be the result. As I always understood, the Liberty
men deprecated the annexation of Texas extremely; and this being
so, why they should refuse to cast their votes [so] as to prevent
it, even to me seemed wonderful. What was their process of
reasoning, I can only judge from what a single one of them told
me. It was this: "We are not to do evil that good may come."
This general proposition is doubtless correct; but did it apply?
If by your votes you could have prevented the extension, etc., of
slavery would it not have been good, and not evil, so to have
used your votes, even though it involved the casting of them for
a slaveholder? By the fruit the tree is to be known. An evil
tree cannot bring forth good fruit. If the fruit of electing Mr.
Clay would have been to prevent the extension of slavery, could
the act of electing have been evil?

But I will not argue further. I perhaps ought to say that
individually I never was much interested in the Texas question.
I never could see much good to come of annexation, inasmuch as
they were already a free republican people on our own model. On
the other hand, I never could very clearly see how the annexation
would augment the evil of slavery. It always seemed to me that
slaves would be taken there in about equal numbers, with or
without annexation. And if more were taken because of
annexation, still there would be just so many the fewer left
where they were taken from. It is possibly true, to some extent,
that, with annexation, some slaves may be sent to Texas and
continued in slavery that otherwise might have been liberated.
To whatever extent this may be true, I think annexation an evil.
I hold it to be a paramount duty of us in the free States, due to
the Union of the States, and perhaps to liberty itself (paradox
though it may seem), to let the slavery of the other States
alone; while, on the other hand, I hold it to be equally clear
that we should never knowingly lend ourselves, directly or
indirectly, to prevent that slavery from dying a natural death--
to find new places for it to live in when it can no longer exist
in the old. Of course I am not now considering what would be our
duty in cases of insurrection among the slaves. To recur to the
Texas question, I understand the Liberty men to have viewed
annexation as a much greater evil than ever I did; and I would
like to convince you, if I could, that they could have prevented
it, if they had chosen. I intend this letter for you and Madison
together; and if you and he or either shall think fit to drop me
a line, I shall be pleased.

Yours with respect,




SPRINGFIELD, January 7, 1846.

Dr. ROBERT BOAL, Lacon, Ill.

DEAR DOCTOR:--Since I saw you last fall, I have often thought of
writing to you, as it was then understood I would, but, on
reflection, I have always found that I had nothing new to tell
you. All has happened as I then told you I expected it would--
Baker's declining, Hardin's taking the track, and so on.

If Hardin and I stood precisely equal, if neither of us had been
to Congress, or if we both had, it would only accord with what I
have always done, for the sake of peace, to give way to him; and
I expect I should do it. That I can voluntarily postpone my
pretensions, when they are no more than equal to those to which
they are postponed, you have yourself seen. But to yield to
Hardin under present circumstances seems to me as nothing else
than yielding to one who would gladly sacrifice me altogether.
This I would rather not submit to. That Hardin is talented,
energetic, usually generous and magnanimous, I have before this
affirmed to you and do not deny. You know that my only argument
is that "turn about is fair play." This he, practically at least,

If it would not be taxing you too much, I wish you would write
me, telling the aspect of things in your country, or rather your
district; and also, send the names of some of your Whig
neighbors, to whom I might, with propriety, write. Unless I can
get some one to do this, Hardin, with his old franking list, will
have the advantage of me. My reliance for a fair shake (and I
want nothing more) in your country is chiefly on you, because of
your position and standing, and because I am acquainted with so
few others. Let me hear from you soon.

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, Jan. 15, 1846.



Nathan Dresser is here, and speaks as though the contest between
Hardin and me is to be doubtful in Menard County. I know he is
candid and this alarms me some. I asked him to tell me the names
of the men that were going strong for Hardin, he said Morris was
about as strong as any-now tell me, is Morris going it openly?
You remember you wrote me that he would be neutral. Nathan also
said that some man, whom he could not remember, had said lately
that Menard County was going to decide the contest and that made
the, contest very doubtful. Do you know who that was? Don't
fail to write me instantly on receiving this, telling me all-
particularly the names of those who are going strong against me.

Yours as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, January 21, 1846.

DEAR SIR:--You perhaps know that General Hardin and I have a
contest for the Whig nomination for Congress for this district.

He has had a turn and my argument is "turn about is fair play."

I shall be pleased if this strikes you as a sufficient

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, April 26, 1846.

DEAR SIR:--I thank you for the promptness with which you answered
my letter from Bloomington. I also thank you for the frankness
with which you comment upon a certain part of my letter; because
that comment affords me an opportunity of trying to express
myself better than I did before, seeing, as I do, that in that
part of my letter, you have not understood me as I intended to be

In speaking of the "dissatisfaction" of men who yet mean to do no
wrong, etc., I mean no special application of what I said to the
Whigs of Morgan, or of Morgan & Scott. I only had in my mind the
fact that previous to General Hardin's withdrawal some of his
friends and some of mine had become a little warm; and I felt,
and meant to say, that for them now to meet face to face and
converse together was the best way to efface any remnant of
unpleasant feeling, if any such existed.

I did not suppose that General Hardin's friends were in any
greater need of having their feelings corrected than mine were.
Since I saw you at Jacksonville, I have had no more suspicion of
the Whigs of Morgan than of those of any other part of the
district. I write this only to try to remove any impression that
I distrust you and the other Whigs of your country.

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, May 7, 1866.

DEAR SIR:--It is a matter of high moral obligation, if not of
necessity, for me to attend the Coles and Edwards courts. I have
some cases in both of them, in which the parties have my promise,
and are depending upon me. The court commences in Coles on the
second Monday, and in Edgar on the third. Your court in Morgan
commences on the fourth Monday; and it is my purpose to be with
you then, and make a speech. I mention the Coles and Edgar
courts in order that if I should not reach Jacksonville at the
time named you may understand the reason why. I do not, however,
think there is much danger of my being detained; as I shall go
with a purpose not to be, and consequently shall engage in no new
cases that might delay me.

Yours truly,



[In December, 1847, when Lincoln was stumping for Clay, he
crossed into Indiana and revisited his old home. He writes:
"That part of the country is within itself as unpoetical as any
spot on earth; but still seeing it and its objects and
inhabitants aroused feelings in me which were certainly poetry;
though whether my expression of these feelings is poetry, is
quite another question."]

Near twenty years have passed away
Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
And playmates loved so well.

Where many were, but few remain
Of old familiar things;
But seeing them to mind again
The lost and absent brings.

The friends I left that parting day,
How changed, as time has sped!
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,
And half of all are dead.

I hear the loved survivors tell
How naught from death could save,
Till every sound appears a knell,
And every spot a grave.

I range the fields with pensive tread,
And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)
I 'm living in the tombs.


And when at length the drear and long
Time soothed thy fiercer woes,
How plaintively thy mournful song
Upon the still night rose

I've heard it oft as if I dreamed,
Far distant, sweet and lone;
The funeral dirge it ever seemed
Of reason dead and gone.

Air held her breath; trees with the spell
Seemed sorrowing angels round,
Whose swelling tears in dewdrops fell
Upon the listening ground.

But this is past, and naught remains
That raised thee o'er the brute;
Thy piercing shrieks and soothing strains
Are like, forever mute.

Now fare thee well! More thou the cause
Than subject now of woe.
All mental pangs by time's kind laws
Hast lost the power to know.

O Death! thou awe-inspiring prince
That keepst the world in fear,
Why dost thou tear more blest ones hence,
And leave him lingering here?



SPRINGFIELD, October 22, 1846.

DEAR SPEED:--You, no doubt, assign the suspension of our
correspondence to the true philosophic cause; though it must be
confessed by both of us that this is rather a cold reason for
allowing a friendship such as ours to die out by degrees. I
propose now that, upon receipt of this, you shall be considered
in my debt, and under obligations to pay soon, and that neither
shall remain long in arrears hereafter. Are you agreed?

Being elected to Congress, though I am very grateful to our
friends for having done it, has not pleased me as much as I

We have another boy, born the 10th of March. He is very much
such a child as Bob was at his age, rather of a longer order.
Bob is "short and low," and I expect always will be. He talks
very plainly,--almost as plainly as anybody. He is quite smart
enough. I sometimes fear that he is one of the little rare-ripe
sort that are smarter at about five than ever after. He has a
great deal of that sort of mischief that is the offspring of such
animal spirits. Since I began this letter, a messenger came to
tell me Bob was lost; but by the time I reached the house his
mother had found him and had him whipped, and by now, very
likely, he is run away again. Mary has read your letter, and
wishes to be remembered to Mrs. Speed and you, in which I most
sincerely join her.

As ever yours,



October 21, 1847.


GENTLEMEN:--Your second letter on the matter of Thornton and
others, came to hand this morning. I went at once to see Logan,
and found that he is not engaged against you, and that he has so
sent you word by Mr. Butterfield, as he says. He says that some
time ago, a young man (who he knows not) came to him, with a copy
of the affidavit, to engage him to aid in getting the Governor to
grant the warrant; and that he, Logan, told the man, that in his
opinion, the affidavit was clearly insufficient, upon which the
young man left, without making any engagement with him. If the
Governor shall arrive before I leave, Logan and I will both
attend to the matter, and he will attend to it, if he does not
come till after I leave; all upon the condition that the Governor
shall not have acted upon the matter, before his arrival here. I
mention this condition because, I learned this morning from the
Secretary of State, that he is forwarding to the Governor, at
Palestine, all papers he receives in the case, as fast as he
receives them. Among the papers forwarded will be your letter to
the Governor or Secretary of, I believe, the same date and about
the same contents of your last letter to me; so that the Governor
will, at all events have your points and authorities. The case
is a clear one on our side; but whether the Governor will view it
so is another thing.

Yours as ever,



WASHINGTON, December 5, 1847.

DEAR WILLIAM:--You may remember that about a year ago a man by
the name of Wilson (James Wilson, I think) paid us twenty dollars
as an advance fee to attend to a case in the Supreme Court for
him, against a Mr. Campbell, the record of which case was in the
hands of Mr. Dixon of St. Louis, who never furnished it to us.
When I was at Bloomington last fall I met a friend of Wilson, who
mentioned the subject to me, and induced me to write to Wilson,
telling him I would leave the ten dollars with you which had been
left with me to pay for making abstracts in the case, so that the
case may go on this winter; but I came away, and forgot to do it.
What I want now is to send you the money, to be used accordingly,
if any one comes on to start the case, or to be retained by you
if no one does.

There is nothing of consequence new here. Congress is to
organize to-morrow. Last night we held a Whig caucus for the
House, and nominated Winthrop of Massachusetts for speaker,
Sargent of Pennsylvania for sergeant-at-arms, Homer of New Jersey
door-keeper, and McCormick of District of Columbia postmaster.
The Whig majority in the House is so small that, together with
some little dissatisfaction, [it] leaves it doubtful whether we
will elect them all.

This paper is too thick to fold, which is the reason I send only
a half-sheet.

Yours as ever,


WASHINGTON, December 13, 1847

DEAR WILLIAM:--Your letter, advising me of the receipt of our fee
in the bank case, is just received, and I don't expect to hear
another as good a piece of news from Springfield while I am away.
I am under no obligations to the bank; and I therefore wish you
to buy bank certificates, and pay my debt there, so as to pay it
with the least money possible. I would as soon you should buy
them of Mr. Ridgely, or any other person at the bank, as of any
one else, provided you can get them as cheaply. I suppose, after
the bank debt shall be paid, there will be some money left, out
of which I would like to have you pay Lavely and Stout twenty
dollars, and Priest and somebody (oil-makers) ten dollars, for
materials got for house-painting. If there shall still be any
left, keep it till you see or hear from me.

I shall begin sending documents so soon as I can get them. I
wrote you yesterday about a "Congressional Globe." As you are all
so anxious for me to distinguish myself, I have concluded to do
so before long.

Yours truly,



Whereas, The President of the United States, in his message of
May 11, 1846, has declared that "the Mexican Government not only
refused to receive him [the envoy of the United States], or to
listen to his propositions, but, after a long-continued series of
menaces, has at last invaded our territory and shed the blood of
our fellow-citizens on our own soil";

And again, in his message of December 8, 1846, that "we had ample
cause of war against Mexico long before the breaking out of
hostilities; but even then we forbore to take redress into our
own hands until Mexico herself became the aggressor, by invading
our soil in hostile array, and shedding the blood of our

And yet again, in his message of December 7, 1847, that "the
Mexican Government refused even to hear the terms of adjustment
which he [our minister of peace] was authorized to propose, and
finally, under wholly unjustifiable pretexts, involved the two
countries in war, by invading the territory of the State of
Texas, striking the first blow, and shedding the blood of our
citizens on our own soil";

And whereas, This House is desirous to obtain a full knowledge of
all the facts which go to establish whether the particular spot
on which the blood of our citizens was so shed was or was not at
that time our own soil: therefore,

Resolved, By the House of Representatives, that the President of
the United States be respectfully requested to inform this House:

First. Whether the spot on which the blood of our citizens was
shed, as in his message declared, was or was not within the
territory of Spain, at least after the treaty of 1819, until the
Mexican revolution.

Second. Whether that spot is or is not within the territory
which was wrested from Spain by the revolutionary government of

Third. Whether that spot is or is not within a settlement of
people, which settlement has existed ever since long before the
Texas revolution, and until its inhabitants fled before the
approach of the United States army.

Fourth. Whether that settlement is or is not isolated from any
and all other settlements by the Gulf and the Rio Grande on the
south and west, and by wide uninhabited regions on the north and

Fifth. Whether the people of that settlement, or a majority of
them, or any of them, have ever submitted themselves to the
government or laws of Texas or of the United States, by consent
or by compulsion, either by accepting office, or voting at
elections, or paying tax, or serving on juries, or having process
served upon them, or in any other way.

Sixth. Whether the people of that settlement did or did not flee
from the approach of the United States army, leaving unprotected
their homes and their growing crops, before the blood was shed,
as in the message stated; and whether the first blood, so shed,
was or was not shed within the inclosure of one of the people who
had thus fled from it.

Seventh. Whether our citizens, whose blood was shed, as in his
message declared, were or were not, at that time, armed officers
and soldiers, sent into that settlement by the military order of
the President, through the Secretary of War.

Eighth. Whether the military force of the United States was or
was not so sent into that settlement after General Taylor had
more than once intimated to the War Department that, in his
opinion, no such movement was necessary to the defence or
protection of Texas.

JANUARY 5, 1848.

Mr. Lincoln said he had made an effort, some few days since, to
obtain the floor in relation to this measure [resolution to
direct Postmaster-General to make arrangements with railroad for
carrying the mails--in Committee of the Whole], but had failed.
One of the objects he had then had in view was now in a great
measure superseded by what had fallen from the gentleman from
Virginia who had just taken his seat. He begged to assure his
friends on the other side of the House that no assault whatever
was meant upon the Postmaster-General, and he was glad that what
the gentleman had now said modified to a great extent the
impression which might have been created by the language he had
used on a previous occasion. He wanted to state to gentlemen who
might have entertained such impressions, that the Committee on
the Post-office was composed of five Whigs and four Democrats,
and their report was understood as sustaining, not impugning, the
position taken by the Postmaster-General. That report had met
with the approbation of all the Whigs, and of all the Democrats
also, with the exception of one, and he wanted to go even further
than this. [Intimation was informally given Mr. Lincoln that it
was not in order to mention on the floor what had taken place in
committee.] He then observed that if he had been out of order in
what he had said he took it all back so far as he could. He had
no desire, he could assure gentlemen, ever to be out of order--
though he never could keep long in order.

Mr. Lincoln went on to observe that he differed in opinion, in
the present case, from his honorable friend from Richmond [Mr.
Botts]. That gentleman, had begun his remarks by saying that if
all prepossessions in this matter could be removed out of the
way, but little difficulty would be experienced in coming to an
agreement. Now, he could assure that gentleman that he had
himself begun the examination of the subject with prepossessions
all in his favor. He had long and often heard of him, and, from
what he had heard, was prepossessed in his favor. Of the
Postmaster-General he had also heard, but had no prepossessions
in his favor, though certainly none of an opposite kind. He
differed, however, with that gentleman in politics, while in this
respect he agreed with the gentleman from Virginia [Mr. Botts],
whom he wished to oblige whenever it was in his power. That
gentleman had referred to the report made to the House by the
Postmaster-General, and had intimated an apprehension that
gentlemen would be disposed to rely, on that report alone, and
derive their views of the case from that document alone. Now it
so happened that a pamphlet had been slipped into his [Mr.
Lincoln's] hand before he read the report of the Postmaster-
General; so that, even in this, he had begun with prepossessions
in favor of the gentleman from Virginia.

As to the report, he had but one remark to make: he had carefully
examined it, and he did not understand that there was any dispute
as to the facts therein stated the dispute, if he understood it,
was confined altogether to the inferences to be drawn from those
facts. It was a difference not about facts, but about
conclusions. The facts were not disputed. If he was right in
this, he supposed the House might assume the facts to be as they
were stated, and thence proceed to draw their own conclusions.

The gentleman had said that the Postmaster-General had got into a
personal squabble with the railroad company. Of this Mr. Lincoln
knew nothing, nor did he need or desire to know anything, because
it had nothing whatever to do with a just conclusion from the
premises. But the gentleman had gone on to ask whether so great
a grievance as the present detention of the Southern mail ought
not to be remedied. Mr. Lincoln would assure the gentleman that
if there was a proper way of doing it, no man was more anxious
than he that it should be done. The report made by the committee
had been intended to yield much for the sake of removing that
grievance. That the grievance was very great there was no
dispute in any quarter. He supposed that the statements made by
the gentleman from Virginia to show this were all entirely
correct in point of fact. He did suppose that the interruptions
of regular intercourse, and all the other inconveniences growing
out of it, were all as that gentleman had stated them to be; and
certainly, if redress could be rendered, it was proper it should
be rendered as soon as possible. The gentleman said that in
order to effect this no new legislative action was needed; all
that was necessary was that the Postmaster-General should be
required to do what the law, as it stood, authorized and required
him to do.

We come then, said Mr. Lincoln, to the law. Now the Postmaster-
General says he cannot give to this company more than two hundred
and thirty-seven dollars and fifty cents per railroad mile of
transportation, and twelve and a half per cent. less for
transportation by steamboats. He considers himself as restricted
by law to this amount; and he says, further, that he would not
give more if he could, because in his apprehension it would not
be fair and just.




WASHINGTON, January 8, 1848.

DEAR WILLIAM:--Your letter of December 27 was received a day or
two ago. I am much obliged to you for the trouble you have
taken, and promise to take in my little business there. As to
speech making, by way of getting the hang of the House I made a
little speech two or three days ago on a post-office question of
no general interest. I find speaking here and elsewhere about
the same thing. I was about as badly scared, and no worse as I
am when I speak in court. I expect to make one within a week or
two, in which I hope to succeed well enough to wish you to see

It is very pleasant to learn from you that there are some who
desire that I should be reelected. I most heartily thank them
for their kind partiality; and I can say, as Mr. Clay said of the
annexation of Texas, that "personally I would not object" to a
reelection, although I thought at the time, and still think, it
would be quite as well for me to return to the law at the end of
a single term. I made the declaration that I would not be a
candidate again, more from a wish to deal fairly with others, to
keep peace among our friends, and to keep the district from going
to the enemy, than for any cause personal to myself; so that if
it should so happen that nobody else wishes to be elected, I
could not refuse the people the right of sending me again. But
to enter myself as a competitor of others, or to authorize any
one so to enter me is what my word and honor forbid.

I got some letters intimating a probability of so much difficulty
amongst our friends as to lose us the district; but I remember
such letters were written to Baker when my own case was under
consideration, and I trust there is no more ground for such
apprehension now than there was then. Remember I am always glad
to receive a letter from you.

Most truly your friend,



JANUARY 12, 1848.

MR CHAIRMAN:--Some if not all the gentlemen on the other side of
the House who have addressed the committee within the last two
days have spoken rather complainingly, if I have rightly
understood them, of the vote given a week or ten days ago
declaring that the war with Mexico was unnecessarily and
unconstitutionally commenced by the President. I admit that such
a vote should not be given in mere party wantonness, and that the
one given is justly censurable if it have no other or better
foundation. I am one of those who joined in that vote; and I did
so under my best impression of the truth of the case. How I got
this impression, and how it may possibly be remedied, I will now
try to show. When the war began, it was my opinion that all
those who because of knowing too little, or because of knowing
too much, could not conscientiously approve the conduct of the
President in the beginning of it should nevertheless, as good
citizens and patriots, remain silent on that point, at least till
the war should be ended. Some leading Democrats, including ex-
President Van Buren, have taken this same view, as I understand
them; and I adhered to it and acted upon it, until since I took
my seat here; and I think I should still adhere to it were it not
that the President and his friends will not allow it to be so.
Besides the continual effort of the President to argue every
silent vote given for supplies into an indorsement of the justice
and wisdom of his conduct; besides that singularly candid
paragraph in his late message in which he tells us that Congress
with great unanimity had declared that "by the act of the
Republic of Mexico, a state of war exists between that government
and the United States," when the same journals that informed him
of this also informed him that when that declaration stood
disconnected from the question of supplies sixty-seven in the
House, and not fourteen merely, voted against it; besides this
open attempt to prove by telling the truth what he could not
prove by telling the whole truth-demanding of all who will not
submit to be misrepresented, in justice to themselves, to speak
out, besides all this, one of my colleagues [Mr. Richardson] at a
very early day in the session brought in a set of resolutions
expressly indorsing the original justice of the war on the part
of the President. Upon these resolutions when they shall be put
on their passage I shall be compelled to vote; so that I cannot
be silent if I would. Seeing this, I went about preparing myself
to give the vote understandingly when it should come. I
carefully examined the President's message, to ascertain what he
himself had said and proved upon the point. The result of this
examination was to make the impression that, taking for true all
the President states as facts, he falls far short of proving his
justification; and that the President would have gone further
with his proof if it had not been for the small matter that the
truth would not permit him. Under the impression thus made I
gave the vote before mentioned. I propose now to give concisely
the process of the examination I made, and how I reached the
conclusion I did. The President, in his first war message of
May, 1846, declares that the soil was ours on which hostilities
were commenced by Mexico, and he repeats that declaration almost
in the same language in each successive annual message, thus
showing that he deems that point a highly essential one. In the
importance of that point I entirely agree with the President. To
my judgment it is the very point upon which he should be
justified, or condemned. In his message of December, 1846, it
seems to have occurred to him, as is certainly true, that title-
ownership-to soil or anything else is not a simple fact, but is a
conclusion following on one or more simple facts; and that it was
incumbent upon him to present the facts from which he concluded
the soil was ours on which the first blood of the war was shed.

Accordingly, a little below the middle of page twelve in the
message last referred to, he enters upon that task; forming an
issue and introducing testimony, extending the whole to a little
below the middle of page fourteen. Now, I propose to try to show
that the whole of this--issue and evidence--is from beginning to
end the sheerest deception. The issue, as he presents it, is in
these words: "But there are those who, conceding all this to be
true, assume the ground that the true western boundary of Texas
is the Nueces, instead of the Rio Grande; and that, therefore, in
marching our army to the east bank of the latter river, we passed
the Texas line and invaded the territory of Mexico." Now this
issue is made up of two affirmatives and no negative. The main
deception of it is that it assumes as true that one river or the
other is necessarily the boundary; and cheats the superficial
thinker entirely out of the idea that possibly the boundary is
somewhere between the two, and not actually at either. A further
deception is that it will let in evidence which a true issue
would exclude. A true issue made by the President would be about
as follows: "I say the soil was ours, on which the first blood
was shed; there are those who say it was not."

I now proceed to examine the President's evidence as applicable
to such an issue. When that evidence is analyzed, it is all
included in the following propositions

(1) That the Rio Grande was the western boundary of Louisiana as
we purchased it of France in 1803.

(2) That the Republic of Texas always claimed the Rio Grande as
her eastern boundary.

(3) That by various acts she had claimed it on paper.

(4) That Santa Anna in his treaty with Texas recognized the Rio
Grande as her boundary.

(5) That Texas before, and the United States after, annexation
had exercised jurisdiction beyond the Nueces--between the two

(6) That our Congress understood the boundary of Texas to extend
beyond the Nueces.

Now for each of these in its turn. His first item is that the
Rio Grande was the western boundary of Louisiana, as we purchased
it of France in 1803; and seeming to expect this to be disputed,
he argues over the amount of nearly a page to prove it true, at
the end of which he lets us know that by the treaty of 1803 we
sold to Spain the whole country from the Rio Grande eastward to
the Sabine. Now, admitting for the present that the Rio Grande
was the boundary of Louisiana, what under heaven had that to do
with the present boundary between us and Mexico? How, Mr.
Chairman, the line that once divided your land from mine can
still be the boundary between us after I have sold my land to you
is to me beyond all comprehension. And how any man, with an
honest purpose only of proving the truth, could ever have thought
of introducing such a fact to prove such an issue is equally
incomprehensible. His next piece of evidence is that "the
Republic of Texas always claimed this river [Rio Grande] as her
western boundary." That is not true, in fact. Texas has claimed
it, but she has not always claimed it. There is at least one
distinguished exception. Her State constitution the republic's
most solemn and well-considered act, that which may, without
impropriety, be called her last will and testament, revoking all
others-makes no such claim. But suppose she had always claimed
it. Has not Mexico always claimed the contrary? So that there
is but claim against claim, leaving nothing proved until we get
back of the claims and find which has the better foundation.
Though not in the order in which the President presents his
evidence, I now consider that class of his statements which are
in substance nothing more than that Texas has, by various acts of
her Convention and Congress, claimed the Rio Grande as her
boundary, on paper. I mean here what he says about the fixing of
the Rio Grande as her boundary in her old constitution (not her
State constitution), about forming Congressional districts,
counties, etc. Now all of this is but naked claim; and what I
have already said about claims is strictly applicable to this.
If I should claim your land by word of mouth, that certainly
would not make it mine; and if I were to claim it by a deed which
I had made myself, and with which you had had nothing to do, the
claim would be quite the same in substance--or rather, in utter
nothingness. I next consider the President's statement that
Santa Anna in his treaty with Texas recognized the Rio Grande as
the western boundary of Texas. Besides the position so often
taken, that Santa Anna while a prisoner of war, a captive, could
not bind Mexico by a treaty, which I deem conclusive--besides
this, I wish to say something in relation to this treaty, so
called by the President, with Santa Anna. If any man would like
to be amused by a sight of that little thing which the President
calls by that big name, he can have it by turning to Niles's
Register, vol. 1, p. 336. And if any one should suppose that
Niles's Register is a curious repository of so mighty a document
as a solemn treaty between nations, I can only say that I learned
to a tolerable degree of certainty, by inquiry at the State
Department, that the President himself never saw it anywhere
else. By the way, I believe I should not err if I were to
declare that during the first ten years of the existence of that
document it was never by anybody called a treaty--that it was
never so called till the President, in his extremity, attempted
by so calling it to wring something from it in justification of
himself in connection with the Mexican War. It has none of the
distinguishing features of a treaty. It does not call itself a
treaty. Santa Anna does not therein assume to bind Mexico; he
assumes only to act as the President--Commander-in-Chief of the
Mexican army and navy; stipulates that the then present
hostilities should cease, and that he would not himself take up
arms, nor influence the Mexican people to take up arms, against
Texas during the existence of the war of independence. He did
not recognize the independence of Texas; he did not assume to put
an end to the war, but clearly indicated his expectation of its
continuance; he did not say one word about boundary, and, most
probably, never thought of it. It is stipulated therein that the
Mexican forces should evacuate the territory of Texas, passing to
the other side of the Rio Grande; and in another article it is
stipulated that, to prevent collisions between the armies, the
Texas army should not approach nearer than within five leagues--
of what is not said, but clearly, from the object stated, it is
of the Rio Grande. Now, if this is a treaty recognizing the Rio
Grande as the boundary of Texas, it contains the singular feature
of stipulating that Texas shall not go within five leagues of her
own boundary.

Next comes the evidence of Texas before annexation, and the
United States afterwards, exercising jurisdiction beyond the
Nueces and between the two rivers. This actual exercise of
jurisdiction is the very class or quality of evidence we want.
It is excellent so far as it goes; but does it go far enough? He
tells us it went beyond the Nueces, but he does not tell us it
went to the Rio Grande. He tells us jurisdiction was exercised
between the two rivers, but he does not tell us it was exercised
over all the territory between them. Some simple-minded people
think it is possible to cross one river and go beyond it without
going all the way to the next, that jurisdiction may be exercised
between two rivers without covering all the country between them.
I know a man, not very unlike myself, who exercises jurisdiction
over a piece of land between the Wabash and the Mississippi; and
yet so far is this from being all there is between those rivers
that it is just one hundred and fifty-two feet long by fifty feet
wide, and no part of it much within a hundred miles of either. He
has a neighbor between him and the Mississippi--that is, just
across the street, in that direction--whom I am sure he could
neither persuade nor force to give up his habitation; but which
nevertheless he could certainly annex, if it were to be done by
merely standing on his own side of the street and claiming it, or
even sitting down and writing a deed for it.

But next the President tells us the Congress of the United States
understood the State of Texas they admitted into the Union to
extend beyond the Nueces. Well, I suppose they did. I certainly
so understood it. But how far beyond? That Congress did not
understand it to extend clear to the Rio Grande is quite certain,
by the fact of their joint resolutions for admission expressly
leaving all questions of boundary to future adjustment. And it
may be added that Texas herself is proven to have had the same
understanding of it that our Congress had, by the fact of the
exact conformity of her new constitution to those resolutions.

I am now through the whole of the President's evidence; and it is
a singular fact that if any one should declare the President sent
the army into the midst of a settlement of Mexican people who had
never submitted, by consent or by force, to the authority of
Texas or of the United States, and that there and thereby the
first blood of the war was shed, there is not one word in all the
which would either admit or deny the declaration. This strange
omission it does seem to me could not have occurred but by
design. My way of living leads me to be about the courts of
justice; and there I have sometimes seen a good lawyer,
struggling for his client's neck in a desperate case, employing
every artifice to work round, befog, and cover up with many words
some point arising in the case which he dared not admit and yet
could not deny. Party bias may help to make it appear so, but
with all the allowance I can make for such bias, it still does
appear to me that just such, and from just such necessity, is the
President's struggle in this case.

Sometime after my colleague [Mr. Richardson] introduced the
resolutions I have mentioned, I introduced a preamble,
resolution, and interrogations, intended to draw the President
out, if possible, on this hitherto untrodden ground. To show
their relevancy, I propose to state my understanding of the true
rule for ascertaining the boundary between Texas and Mexico. It
is that wherever Texas was exercising jurisdiction was hers; and
wherever Mexico was exercising jurisdiction was hers; and that
whatever separated the actual exercise of jurisdiction of the one
from that of the other was the true boundary between them. If,
as is probably true, Texas was exercising jurisdiction along the
western bank of the Nueces, and Mexico was exercising it along
the eastern bank of the Rio Grande, then neither river was the
boundary: but the uninhabited country between the two was. The
extent of our territory in that region depended not on any
treaty-fixed boundary (for no treaty had attempted it), but on
revolution. Any people anywhere being inclined and having the
power have the right to rise up and shake off the existing
government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a
most valuable, a most sacred right--a right which we hope and
believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to
cases in which the whole people of an existing government may
choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can may
revolutionize and make their own of so much of the territory as
they inhabit. More than this, a majority of any portion of such
people may revolutionize, putting down a minority, intermingled
with or near about them, who may oppose this movement. Such
minority was precisely the case of the Tories of our own
revolution. It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old
lines or old laws, but to break up both, and make new ones.

As to the country now in question, we bought it of France in
1803, and sold it to Spain in 1819, according to the President's
statements. After this, all Mexico, including Texas,
revolutionized against Spain; and still later Texas
revolutionized against Mexico. In my view, just so far as she
carried her resolution by obtaining the actual, willing or
unwilling, submission of the people, so far the country was hers,
and no farther. Now, sir, for the purpose of obtaining the very
best evidence as to whether Texas had actually carried her
revolution to the place where the hostilities of the present war
commenced, let the President answer the interrogatories I
proposed, as before mentioned, or some other similar ones. Let
him answer fully, fairly, and candidly. Let him answer with facts
and not with arguments. Let him remember he sits where
Washington sat, and so remembering, let him answer as Washington
would answer. As a nation should not, and the Almighty will not,
be evaded, so let him attempt no evasion--no equivocation. And
if, so answering, he can show that the soil was ours where the
first blood of the war was shed,--that it was not within an
inhabited country, or, if within such, that the inhabitants had
submitted themselves to the civil authority of Texas or of the
United States, and that the same is true of the site of Fort
Brown, then I am with him for his justification. In that case I
shall be most happy to reverse the vote I gave the other day. I
have a selfish motive for desiring that the President may do this
--I expect to gain some votes, in connection with the war, which,
without his so doing, will be of doubtful propriety in my own
judgment, but which will be free from the doubt if he does so.
But if he can not or will not do this,--if on any pretence or no
pretence he shall refuse or omit it then I shall be fully
convinced of what I more than suspect already that he is deeply
conscious of being in the wrong; that he feels the blood of this
war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to heaven against him;
that originally having some strong motive--what, I will not stop
now to give my opinion concerning to involve the two countries in
a war, and trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public gaze
upon the exceeding brightness of military glory,--that attractive
rainbow that rises in showers of blood, that serpent's eye that
charms to destroy,--he plunged into it, and was swept on and on
till, disappointed in his calculation of the ease with which
Mexico might be subdued, he now finds himself he knows not where.
How like the half insane mumbling of a fever dream is the whole
war part of his late message! At one time telling us that Mexico
has nothing whatever that we can get--but territory; at another
showing us how we can support the war by levying contributions on
Mexico. At one time urging the national honor, the security of
the future, the prevention of foreign interference, and even the
good of Mexico herself as among the objects of the war; at
another telling us that "to reject indemnity, by refusing to
accept a cession of territory, would be to abandon all our just
demands, and to wage the war, bearing all its expenses, without a
purpose or definite object." So then this national honor,
security of the future, and everything but territorial indemnity
may be considered the no-purposes and indefinite objects of the
war! But, having it now settled that territorial indemnity is
the only object, we are urged to seize, by legislation here, all
that he was content to take a few months ago, and the whole
province of Lower California to boot, and to still carry on the
war to take all we are fighting for, and still fight on. Again,
the President is resolved under all circumstances to have full
territorial indemnity for the expenses of the war; but he forgets
to tell us how we are to get the excess after those expenses
shall have surpassed the value of the whole of the Mexican
territory. So again, he insists that the separate national
existence of Mexico shall be maintained; but he does not tell us
how this can be done, after we shall have taken all her
territory. Lest the questions I have suggested be considered
speculative merely, let me be indulged a moment in trying to show
they are not. The war has gone on some twenty months; for the
expenses of which, together with an inconsiderable old score, the
President now claims about one half of the Mexican territory, and
that by far the better half, so far as concerns our ability to
make anything out of it. It is comparatively uninhabited; so
that we could establish land-offices in it, and raise some money
in that way. But the other half is already inhabited, as I
understand it, tolerably densely for the nature of the country,
and all its lands, or all that are valuable, already appropriated
as private property. How then are we to make anything out of
these lands with this encumbrance on them? or how remove the
encumbrance? I suppose no one would say we should kill the
people, or drive them out, or make slaves of them, or confiscate
their property. How, then, can we make much out of this part of
the territory? If the prosecution of the war has in expenses
already equalled the better half of the country, how long its
future prosecution will be in equalling the less valuable half is
not a speculative, but a practical, question, pressing closely
upon us. And yet it is a question which the President seems
never to have thought of. As to the mode of terminating the war
and securing peace, the President is equally wandering and
indefinite. First, it is to be done by a more vigorous
prosecution of the war in the vital parts of the enemy's country;
and after apparently talking himself tired on this point, the
President drops down into a half-despairing tone, and tells us
that "with a people distracted and divided by contending
factions, and a government subject to constant changes by
successive revolutions, the continued success of our arms may
fail to secure a satisfactory peace." Then he suggests the
propriety of wheedling the Mexican people to desert the counsels
of their own leaders, and, trusting in our protestations, to set
up a government from which we can secure a satisfactory peace;
telling us that "this may become the only mode of obtaining
such a peace." But soon he falls into doubt of this too; and
then drops back on to the already half-abandoned ground of "more
vigorous prosecution." All this shows that the President is in
nowise satisfied with his own positions. First he takes up one,
and in attempting to argue us into it he argues himself out of
it, then seizes another and goes through the same process, and
then, confused at being able to think of nothing new, he snatches
up the old one again, which he has some time before cast off.
His mind, taxed beyond its power, is running hither and thither,
like some tortured creature on a burning surface, finding no
position on which it can settle down and be at ease.

Again, it is a singular omission in this message that it nowhere
intimates when the President expects the war to terminate. At
its beginning, General Scott was by this same President driven
into disfavor if not disgrace, for intimating that peace could
not be conquered in less than three or four months. But now, at
the end of about twenty months, during which time our arms have
given us the most splendid successes, every department and every
part, land and water, officers and privates, regulars and
volunteers, doing all that men could do, and hundreds of things
which it had ever before been thought men could not do--after all
this, this same President gives a long message, without showing
us that as to the end he himself has even an imaginary
conception. As I have before said, he knows not where he is. He
is a bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed man. God
grant he may be able to show there is not something about his
conscience more painful than his mental perplexity.

The following is a copy of the so-called "treaty" referred to in
the speech:

"Articles of Agreement entered into between his Excellency
David G. Burnet, President of the Republic of Texas, of the one
part, and his Excellency General Santa Anna, President-General-
in-Chief of the Mexican army, of the other part:
"Article I. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna agrees that
he will not take up arms, nor will he exercise his influence to
cause them to be taken up, against the people of Texas during the
present war of independence.
"Article II. All hostilities between the Mexican and Texan
troops will cease immediately, both by land and water.
"Article III. The Mexican troops will evacuate the territory
of Texas, passing to the other side of the Rio Grande Del Norte.
"Article IV. The Mexican army, in its retreat, shall not
take the property of any person without his consent and just
indemnification, using only such articles as may be necessary for
its subsistence, in cases when the owner may not be present, and
remitting to the commander of the army of Texas, or to the
commissioners to be appointed for the adjustment of such matters,
an account of the value of the property consumed, the place where
taken, and the name of the owner, if it can be ascertained.
"Article V. That all private property, including cattle,
horses, negro slaves, or indentured persons, of whatever
denomination, that may have been captured by any portion of the
Mexican army, or may have taken refuge in the said army, since
the commencement of the late invasion, shall be restored to the
commander of the Texan army, or to such other persons as may be
appointed by the Government of Texas to receive them.
"Article VI. The troops of both armies will refrain from
coming in contact with each other; and to this end the commander
of the army of Texas will be careful not to approach within a
shorter distance than five leagues.
"Article VII. The Mexican army shall not make any other
delay on its march than that which is necessary to take up their
hospitals, baggage, etc., and to cross the rivers; any delay not
necessary to these purposes to be considered an infraction of
this agreement.
"Article VIII. By an express, to be immediately despatched,
this agreement shall be sent to General Vincente Filisola and to
General T. J. Rusk, commander of the Texan army, in order that
they may be apprised of its stipulations; and to this end they
will exchange engagements to comply with the same.
"Article IX. That all Texan prisoners now in the possession
of the Mexican army, or its authorities, be forthwith released,
and furnished with free passports to return to their homes; in
consideration of which a corresponding number of Mexican
prisoners, rank and file, now in possession of the Government of
Texas shall be immediately released; the remainder of the Mexican
prisoners that continue in the possession of the Government of
Texas to be treated with due humanity,--any extraordinary
comforts that may be furnished them to be at the charge of the
Government of Mexico.
"Article X. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna will be sent
to Vera Cruz as soon as it shall be deemed proper.

"The contracting parties sign this instrument for the
abovementioned purposes, in duplicate, at the port of Velasco,
this fourteenth day of May, 1836.

"DAVID G. BURNET, President,
"JAS. COLLINGSWORTH, Secretary of State,
"B. HARDIMAN, Secretary o f the Treasury,
"P. W. GRAYSON, Attorney-General."

JANUARY 19, 1848.

Mr. Lincoln, from the Committee on the Post-office and Post
Roads, made the following report:

The Committee on the Post-office and Post Roads, to whom was
referred the petition of Messrs. Saltmarsh and Fuller, report:
That, as proved to their satisfaction, the mail routes from
Milledgeville to Athens, and from Warrenton to Decatur, in the
State of Georgia (numbered 2366 and 2380), were let to Reeside
and Avery at $1300 per annum for the former and $1500 for the
latter, for the term of four years, to commence on the first day
of January, 1835; that, previous to the time for commencing the
service, Reeside sold his interest therein to Avery; that on the
5th of May, 1835, Avery sold the whole to these petitioners,
Saltmarsh and Fuller, to take effect from the beginning, January
a 1835; that at this time, the Assistant Postmaster-General,
being called on for that purpose, consented to the transfer of
the contracts from Reeside and Avery to these petitioners, and
promised to have proper entries of the transfer made on the books
of the department, which, however, was neglected to be done; that
the petitioners, supposing all was right, in good faith commenced
the transportation of the mail on these routes, and after
difficulty arose, still trusting that all would be made right,
continued the service till December a 1837; that they performed
the service to the entire satisfaction of the department, and
have never been paid anything for it except $----; that the
difficulty occurred as follows:

Mr. Barry was Postmaster-General at the times of making the
contracts and the attempted transfer of them; Mr. Kendall
succeeded Mr. Barry, and finding Reeside apparently in debt to
the department, and these contracts still standing in the names
of Reeside and Avery, refused to pay for the services under them,
otherwise than by credits to Reeside; afterward, however, he
divided the compensation, still crediting one half to Reeside,
and directing the other to be paid to the order of Avery, who
disclaimed all right to it. After discontinuing the service,
these petitioners, supposing they might have legal redress
against Avery, brought suit against him in New Orleans; in which
suit they failed, on the ground that Avery had complied with his
contract, having done so much toward the transfer as they had
accepted and been satisfied with. Still later the department
sued Reeside on his supposed indebtedness, and by a verdict of
the jury it was determined that the department was indebted to
him in a sum much beyond all the credits given him on the account
above stated. Under these circumstances, the committee consider
the petitioners clearly entitled to relief, and they report a
bill accordingly; lest, however, there should be some mistake as
to the amount which they have already received, we so frame it as
that, by adjustment at the department, they may be paid so much
as remains unpaid for services actually performed by them not
charging them with the credits given to Reeside. The committee
think it not improbable that the petitioners purchased the right
of Avery to be paid for the service from the 1st of January, till
their purchase on May 11, 1835; but, the evidence on this point
being very vague, they forbear to report in favor of allowing it.


WASHINGTON, January 19, 1848.

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