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The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, v2 by Abraham Lincoln

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DEAR SIR:--I recommend that William Butler be appointed pension
agent for the Illinois agency, when the place shall be vacant.
Mr. Hurst, the present incumbent, I believe has performed the
duties very well. He is a decided partisan, and I believe
expects to be removed. Whether he shall, I submit to the
department. This office is not confined to my district, but
pertains to the whole State; so that Colonel Baker has an equal
right with myself to be heard concerning it. However, the office
is located here; and I think it is not probable that any one
would desire to remove from a distance to take it.

Your obedient servant,



SPRINGFIELD, April 25, 1849.

A tirade is still kept up against me here for recommending T. R.
King. This morning it is openly avowed that my supposed
influence at Washington shall be broken down generally, and
King's prospects defeated in particular. Now, what I have done
in this matter I have done at the request of you and some other
friends in Tazewell; and I therefore ask you to either admit it
is wrong or come forward and sustain me. If the truth will
permit, I propose that you sustain me in the following manner:
copy the inclosed scrap in your own handwriting and get everybody
(not three or four, but three or four hundred) to sign it, and
then send it to me. Also, have six, eight or ten of our best
known Whig friends there write to me individual letters, stating
the truth in this matter as they understand it. Don't neglect or
delay in the matter. I understand information of an indictment
having been found against him about three years ago, for gaming
or keeping a gaming house, has been sent to the department. I
shall try to take care of it at the department till your action
can be had and forwarded on.

Yours as ever,





DEAR SIR:--I regret troubling you so often in relation to the
land-offices here, but I hope you will perceive the necessity of
it, and excuse me. On the 7th of April I wrote you recommending
Turner R. King for register, and Walter Davis for receiver.
Subsequently I wrote you that, for a private reason, I had
concluded to transpose them. That private reason was the request
of an old personal friend who himself desired to be receiver, but
whom I felt it my duty to refuse a recommendation. He said if I
would transpose King and Davis he would be satisfied. I thought
it a whim, but, anxious to oblige him, I consented. Immediately
he commenced an assault upon King's character, intending, as I
suppose, to defeat his appointment, and thereby secure another
chance for himself. This double offence of bad faith to me and
slander upon a good man is so totally outrageous that I now ask
to have King and Davis placed as I originally recommended,--that
is, King for register and Davis for receiver.

An effort is being made now to have Mr. Barret, the present
register, retained. I have already said he has done the duties
of the office well, and I now add he is a gentleman in the true
sense. Still, he submits to be the instrument of his party to
injure us. His high character enables him to do it more
effectually. Last year he presided at the convention which
nominated the Democratic candidate for Congress in this district,
and afterward ran for the State Senate himself, not desiring the
seat, but avowedly to aid and strengthen his party. He made
speech after speech with a degree of fierceness and coarseness
against General Taylor not quite consistent with his habitually
gentlemanly deportment. At least one (and I think more) of those
who are now trying to have him retained was himself an applicant
for this very office, and, failing to get my recommendation, now
takes this turn.

In writing you a third time in relation to these offices, I
stated that I supposed charges had been forwarded to you against
King, and that I would inquire into the truth of them. I now
send you herewith what I suppose will be an ample defense against
any such charges. I ask attention to all the papers, but
particularly to the letters of Mr. David Mack, and the paper with
the long list of names. There is no mistake about King's being a
good man. After the unjust assault upon him, and considering the
just claims of Tazewell County, as indicated in the letters I
inclose you, it would in my opinion be injustice, and withal a
blunder, not to appoint him, at least as soon as any one is
appointed to either of the offices here.

Your obedient servant,



SPRINGFIELD, ILL., May 19, 1849.


Butterfield will be commissioner of the Gen'l Land Office, unless
prevented by strong and speedy efforts. Ewing is for him, and he
is only not appointed yet because Old Zach. hangs fire.

I have reliable information of this. Now, if you agree with me
that this appointment would dissatisfy rather than gratify the
Whigs of this State, that it would slacken their energies in
future contests, that his appointment in '41 is an old sore with
them which they will not patiently have reopened,--in a word that
his appointment now would be a fatal blunder to the
administration and our political men here in Illinois, write
Crittenden to that effect. He can control the matter. Were you
to write Ewing I fear the President would never hear of your
letter. This may be mere suspicion. You might write directly to
Old Zach. You will be the best judge of the propriety of that.
Not a moment's time is to be lost.

Let this be confidential except with Mr. Edwards and a few others
whom you know I would trust just as I do you.

Yours as ever,







DEAR SIR:--I am about to ask a favor of you, one which I hope
will not cost you much. I understand the General Land-Office is
about to be given to Illinois, and that Mr. Ewing desires Justin
Butterfield, of Chicago, to be the man. I give you my word, the
appointment of Mr. Butterfield will be an egregious political
blunder. It will give offence to the whole Whig party here, and
be worse than a dead loss to the administration of so much of its
patronage. Now, if you can conscientiously do so, I wish you to
write General Taylor at once, saying that either I or the man I
recommend should in your opinion be appointed to that office, if
any one from Illinois shall be. I restrict my request to
Illinois because you may have a man from your own State, and I do
not ask to interfere with that.

Your friend as ever,




Application for Patent:

What I claim as my invention, and desire to secure by letters
patent, is the combination of expansible buoyant chambers placed
at the sides of a vessel with the main shaft or shafts by means
of the sliding spars, which pass down through the buoyant
chambers and are made fast to their bottoms and the series of
ropes and pulleys or their equivalents in such a manner that by
turning the main shaft or shafts in one direction the buoyant
chambers will be forced downward into the water, and at the same
time expanded and filled with air for buoying up the vessel by
the displacement of water, and by turning the shafts in an
opposite direction the buoyant chambers will be contracted into a
small space and secured against injury.



SPRINGFIELD, ILL., June 3, 1849


DEAR SIR:--Vandalia, the receiver's office at which place is the
subject of the within, is not in my district; and I have been
much perplexed to express any preference between Dr. Stapp and
Mr. Remann. If any one man is better qualified for such an
office than all others, Dr. Stapp is that man; still, I believe a
large majority of the Whigs of the district prefer Mr. Remann,
who also is a good man. Perhaps the papers on file will enable
you to judge better than I can. The writers of the within are
good men, residing within the land district.

Your obt. servant,



SPRINGFIELD, June 5, 1849.

DEAR WILLIAM:--Your two letters were received last night. I have
a great many letters to write, and so cannot write very long
ones. There must be some mistake about Walter Davis saying I
promised him the post-office. I did not so promise him. I did
tell him that if the distribution of the offices should fall into
my hands, he should have something; and if I shall be convinced
he has said any more than this, I shall be disappointed. I said
this much to him because, as I understand, he is of good
character, is one of the young men, is of the mechanics, and
always faithful and never troublesome; a Whig, and is poor, with
the support of a widow mother thrown almost exclusively on him by
the death of his brother. If these are wrong reasons, then I
have been wrong; but I have certainly not been selfish in it,
because in my greatest need of friends he was against me, and for

Yours as ever,


P. S. Let the above be confidential.



Mr. Edwards is unquestionably offended with me in connection with
the matter of the General Land-Office. He wrote a letter against
me which was filed at the department.

The better part of one's life consists of his friendships; and,
of them, mine with Mr. Edwards was one of the most cherished. I
have not been false to it. At a word I could have had the office
any time before the department was committed to Mr. Butterfield,
at least Mr. Ewing and the President say as much. That word I
forbore to speak, partly for other reasons, but chiefly for Mr.
Edwards' sake, losing the office (that he might gain it) I was
always for; but to lose his friendship, by the effort for him,
would oppress me very much, were I not sustained by the utmost
consciousness of rectitude. I first determined to be an
applicant, unconditionally, on the 2nd of June; and I did so then
upon being informed by a telegraphic despatch that the question
was narrowed down to Mr. B and myself, and that the Cabinet had
postponed the appointment three weeks, for my benefit. Not
doubting that Mr. Edwards was wholly out of the question I,
nevertheless, would not then have become an applicant had I
supposed he would thereby be brought to suspect me of treachery
to him. Two or three days afterwards a conversation with Levi
Davis convinced me Mr. Edwards was dissatisfied; but I was then
too far in to get out. His own letter, written on the 25th of
April, after I had fully informed him of all that had passed, up
to within a few days of that time, gave assurance I had that
entire confidence from him which I felt my uniform and strong
friendship for him entitled me to. Among other things it says,
"Whatever course your judgment may dictate as proper to be
pursued, shall never be excepted to by me." I also had had a
letter from Washington, saying Chambers, of the Republic, had
brought a rumor then, that Mr. E had declined in my favor, which
rumor I judged came from Mr. E himself, as I had not then
breathed of his letter to any living creature. In saying I had
never, before the 2nd of June, determined to be an applicant,
unconditionally, I mean to admit that, before then, I had said
substantially I would take the office rather than it should be
lost to the State, or given to one in the State whom the Whigs
did not want; but I aver that in every instance in which I spoke
of myself, I intended to keep, and now believe I did keep, Mr. E
above myself. Mr. Edwards' first suspicion was that I had
allowed Baker to overreach me, as his friend, in behalf of Don
Morrison. I knew this was a mistake; and the result has proved
it. I understand his view now is, that if I had gone to open war
with Baker I could have ridden him down, and had the thing all my
own way. I believe no such thing. With Baker and some strong
man from the Military tract & elsewhere for Morrison, and we and
some strong man from the Wabash & elsewhere for Mr. E, it was not
possible for either to succeed. I believed this in March, and I
know it now. The only thing which gave either any chance was the
very thing Baker & I proposed,--an adjustment with themselves.

You may wish to know how Butterfield finally beat me. I can not
tell you particulars now, but will when I see you. In the
meantime let it be understood I am not greatly dissatisfied,--I
wish the offer had been so bestowed as to encourage our friends
in future contests, and I regret exceedingly Mr. Edwards'
feelings towards me. These two things away, I should have no
regrets,--at least I think I would not.

Write me soon.

Your friend, as ever,



At a meeting to express sympathy with the cause of Hungarian
freedom, Dr. Todd, Thos. Lewis, Hon. A. Lincoln, and Wm.
Carpenter were appointed a committee to present appropriate
resolutions, which reported through Hon. A. Lincoln the

Resolved, That, in their present glorious struggle for liberty,
the Hungarians command our highest admiration and have our
warmest sympathy.

Resolved, That they have our most ardent prayers for their speedy
triumph and final success.

Resolved, That the Government of the United States should
acknowledge the independence of Hungary as a nation of freemen at
the very earliest moment consistent with our amicable relations
with the government against which they are contending.

Resolved, That, in the opinion of this meeting, the immediate
acknowledgment of the independence of Hungary by our government
is due from American freemen to their struggling brethren, to the
general cause of republican liberty, and not violative of the
just rights of any nation or people.


SPRINGFIELD, Sept. 14, 1849.

Dr. WILLIAM FITHIAN, Danville, Ill.

DEAR DOCTOR:--Your letter of the 9th was received a day or two
ago. The notes and mortgages you enclosed me were duly received.
I also got the original Blanchard mortgage from Antrim Campbell,
with whom Blanchard had left it for you. I got a decree of
foreclosure on the whole; but, owing to there being no redemption
on the sale to be under the Blanchard mortgage, the court allowed
Mobley till the first of March to pay the money, before
advertising for sale. Stuart was empowered by Mobley to appear
for him, and I had to take such decree as he would consent to, or
none at all. I cast the matter about in my mind and concluded
that as I could not get a decree we would put the accrued
interest at interest, and thereby more than match the fact of
throwing the Blanchard debt back from twelve to six per cent., it
was better to do it. This is the present state of the case.

I can well enough understand and appreciate your suggestions
about the Land-Office at Danville; but in my present condition, I
can do nothing.

Yours, as ever,


SPRINGFIELD, Dec. 15, 1849.


DEAR SIR:--On my return from Kentucky I found your letter of the
7th of November, and have delayed answering it till now for the
reason I now briefly state. From the beginning of our
acquaintance I had felt the greatest kindness for you and had
supposed it was reciprocated on your part. Last summer, under
circumstances which I mentioned to you, I was painfully
constrained to withhold a recommendation which you desired, and
shortly afterwards I learned, in such a way as to believe it,
that you were indulging in open abuse of me. Of course my
feelings were wounded. On receiving your last letter the
question occurred whether you were attempting to use me at the
same time you would injure me, or whether you might not have been
misrepresented to me. If the former, I ought not to answer you;
if the latter, I ought, and so I have remained in suspense. I
now enclose you the letter, which you may use if you see fit.

Yours, etc.,




Circuit and District Court of the U. S. in and for the State and
District of Illinois. Monday, June 3, 1850.

On the opening of the Court this morning, the Hon. A. Lincoln, a
member of the Bar of this Court, suggested the death of the Hon.
Nathaniel Pope, late a judge of this Court, since the adjournment
of the last term; whereupon, in token of respect for the memory
of the deceased, it is ordered that the Court do now adjourn
until to-morrow morning at ten o'clock.

The Hon. Stephen T. Logan, the Hon. Norman H. Purple, the Hon.
David L. Gregg, the Hon. A. Lincoln, and George W. Meeker, Esq.,
were appointed a Committee to prepare resolutions.

Whereupon, the Hon. Stephen T. Logan, in behalf of the
Committee, presented the following preamble and resolutions:

Whereas The Hon. Nathaniel Pope, District Judge of the United
States Court for the District of Illinois, having departed this
life during the last vacation of said Court, and the members of
the Bar of said Court, entertainmg the highest veneration for his
memory, a profound respect for his ability, great experience, and
learning as a judge, and cherishing for his many virtues, public
and private, his earnest simplicity of character and
unostentatious deportment, both in his public and private
relations, the most lively and affectionate recollections, have

Resolved, That, as a manifestation of their deep sense of the
loss which has been sustained in his death, they will wear the
usual badge of mourning during the residue of the term.

Resolved, That the Chairman communicate to the family of the
deceased a copy of these proceedings, with an assurance of our
sincere condolence on account of their heavy bereavement.

Resolved, That the Hon. A. Williams, District Attorney of this
Court, be requested in behalf of the meeting to present these
proceedings to the Circuit Court, and respectfully to ask that
they may be entered on the records.

E. N. POWELL, Sec'y.



JULY 1, 1850

DISCOURAGE LITIGATION. Persuade your neighbors to compromise
whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner is
often a real loser-in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a
peace-maker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good
man. There will still be business enough.

Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than
one who does this. Who can be more nearly a fiend than he who
habitually over-hauls the register of deeds in search of defects
in titles, whereon to stir up strife, and put money in his
pocket? A moral tone ought to be infused into the profession
which should drive such men out of it.

The matter of fees is important, far beyond the mere question of
bread and butter involved. Properly attended to, fuller justice
is done to both lawyer and client. An exorbitant fee should
never be claimed. As a general rule never take your whole fee in
advance, nor any more than a small retainer. When fully paid
beforehand, you are more than a common mortal if you can feel the
same interest in the case as if something was still in prospect
for you, as well as for your client. And when you lack interest
in the case the job will very likely lack skill and diligence in
the performance. Settle the amount of fee and take a note in
advance. Then you will feel that you are working for something,
and you are sure to do your work faithfully and well. Never sell
a fee note--at least not before the consideration service is
performed. It leads to negligence and dishonesty--negligence by
losing interest in the case, and dishonesty in refusing to refund
when you have allowed the consideration to fail.

This idea of a refund or reduction of charges from the lawyer in
a failed case is a new one to me--but not a bad one.




January 2, 1851

DEAR JOHNSTON:--Your request for eighty dollars I do not think it
best to comply with now. At the various times when I have helped
you a little you have said to me, "We can get along very well
now"; but in a very short time I find you in the same difficulty
again. Now, this can only happen by some defect in your conduct.
What that defect is, I think I know. You are not lazy, and still
you are an idler. I doubt whether, since I saw you, you have
done a good whole day's work in any one day. You do not very
much dislike to work, and still you do not work much merely
because it does not seem to you that you could get much for it.
This habit of uselessly wasting time is the whole difficulty; it
is vastly important to you, and still more so to your children,
that you should break the habit. It is more important to them,
because they have longer to live, and can keep out of an idle
habit before they are in it, easier than they can get out after
they are in.

You are now in need of some money; and what I propose is, that
you shall go to work, "tooth and nail," for somebody who will
give you money for it. Let father and your boys take charge of
your things at home, prepare for a crop, and make the crop, and
you go to work for the best money wages, or in discharge of any
debt you owe, that you can get; and, to secure you a fair reward
for your labor, I now promise you, that for every dollar you
will, between this and the first of May, get for your own labor,
either in money or as your own indebtedness, I will then give you
one other dollar. By this, if you hire yourself at ten dollars a
month, from me you will get ten more, making twenty dollars a
month for your work. In this I do not mean you shall go off to
St. Louis, or the lead mines, or the gold mines in California,
but I mean for you to go at it for the best wages you can get
close to home in Coles County. Now, if you will do this, you
will be soon out of debt, and, what is better, you will have a
habit that will keep you from getting in debt again. But, if I
should now clear you out of debt, next year you would be just as
deep in as ever. You say you would almost give your place in
heaven for seventy or eighty dollars. Then you value your place
in heaven very cheap, for I am sure you can, with the offer I
make, get the seventy or eighty dollars for four or five months'
work. You say if I will furnish you the money you will deed me
the land, and, if you don't pay the money back, you will deliver
possession. Nonsense! If you can't now live with the land, how
will you then live without it? You have always been kind to me,
and I do not mean to be unkind to you. On the contrary, if you
will but follow my advice, you will find it worth more than
eighty times eighty dollars to you.

Affectionately your brother,



SPRINGFIELD, Jan. 11, 1851.


MY DEAR SIR:--Our case is decided against us. The decision was
announced this morning. Very sorry, but there is no help. The
history of the case since it came here is this. On Friday
morning last, Mr. Joy filed his papers, and entered his motion
for a mandamus, and urged me to take up the motion as soon as
possible. I already had the points and authority sent me by you
and by Mr. Goodrich, but had not studied them. I began preparing
as fast as possible.

The evening of the same day I was again urged to take up the
case. I refused on the ground that I was not ready, and on which
plea I also got off over Saturday. But on Monday (the 14th) I
had to go into it. We occupied the whole day, I using the large
part. I made every point and used every authority sent me by
yourself and by Mr. Goodrich; and in addition all the points I
could think of and all the authorities I could find myself. When
I closed the argument on my part, a large package was handed me,
which proved to be the plat you sent me.

The court received it of me, but it was not different from the
plat already on the record. I do not think I could ever have
argued the case better than I did. I did nothing else, but
prepare to argue and argue this case, from Friday morning till
Monday evening. Very sorry for the result; but I do not think it
could have been prevented.

Your friend, as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, January 12, 1851

DEAR BROTHER:--On the day before yesterday I received a letter
from Harriet, written at Greenup. She says she has just returned
from your house, and that father is very low and will hardly
recover. She also says you have written me two letters, and
that, although you do not expect me to come now, you wonder that
I do not write.

I received both your letters, and although I have not answered
them it is not because I have forgotten them, or been
uninterested about them, but because it appeared to me that I
could write nothing which would do any good. You already know I
desire that neither father nor mother shall be in want of any
comfort, either in health or sickness, while they live; and I
feel sure you have not failed to use my name, if necessary, to
procure a doctor, or anything else for father in his present
sickness. My business is such that I could hardly leave home
now, if it was not as it is, that my own wife is sick abed. (It
is a case of baby-sickness, and I suppose is not dangerous.) I
sincerely hope father may recover his health, but at all events,
tell him to remember to call upon and confide in our great and
good and merciful Maker, who will not turn away from him in any
extremity. He notes the fall of a sparrow, and numbers the hairs
of our heads, and He will not forget the dying man who puts his
trust in Him. Say to him that if we could meet now it is
doubtful whether it would not be more painful than pleasant, but
that if it be his lot to go now, he will soon have a joyous
meeting with many loved ones gone before, and where the rest of
us, through the help of God, hope ere long to join them.

Write to me again when you receive this.




MAY 13, 1851.


Your Petitioner, Joshua Gipson, respectfully represents that on
or about the 21st day of December, 1850, a judgment was rendered
against your Petitioner for costs, by J. C. Spugg, one of the
Justices of the Peace in and for said County of Sangamon, in a
suit wherein your Petitioner was plaintiff and James L. and C.
B. Gerard were defendants; that said judgment was not the result
of negligence on the part of your Petitioner; that said judgment,
in his opinion, is unjust and erroneous in this, that the
defendants were at that time and are indebted to this Petitioner
in the full amount of the principal and interest of the note sued
on, the principal being, as affiant remembers and believes,
thirty-one dollars and eighty two cents; and that, as affiant is
informed and believes, the defendants succeeded in the trial of
said cause by proving old claims against your petitioner, in set-
off against said note, which claims had been settled, adjusted
and paid before said note was executed. Your Petitioner further
states that the reasons of his not being present at said trial,
as he was not, and of its not being in his power to take an
appeal in the ordinary way, as it was not, were that your
Petitioner then resided in Edgar County about one hundred and
twenty miles from where defendants resided; that a very short
time before the suit was commenced your Petitioner was in
Sangamon County for the purpose of collecting debts due him, and
with the rest, the note in question, which note had then been
given more than a year, that your Petitioner then saw the
defendant J. L. Gerard who is the principal in said note, and
solicited payment of the same; that said defendant then made no
pretense that he did not owe the same, but on the contrary
expressly promised that he would come into Springfield, in a very
few days and either pay the money, or give a new note, payable by
the then next Christmas; that your Petitioner accordingly left
said note with said J. C. Spugg, with directions to give
defendant full time to pay the money or give the new note as
above, and if he did neither to sue; and then affiant came home
to Edgar County, not having the slightest suspicion that if suit
should be brought, the defendants would make any defense
whatever; and your Petitioner never did in any way learn that
said suit had been commenced until more than twenty days after it
had been decided against him. He therefore prays for a writ of



SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 31, 1851

Inclosed is the deed for the land. We are all well, and have
nothing in the way of news. We have had no Cholera here for
about two weeks.

Give my love to all, and especially to Mother.

Yours as ever,



SHELBYVILLE, Nov. 4, 1851


When I came into Charleston day before yesterday I learned that
you are anxious to sell the land where you live, and move to
Missouri. I have been thinking of this ever since, and cannot
but think such a notion is utterly foolish. What can you do in
Missouri better than here? Is the land richer? Can you there,
any more than here, raise corn and wheat and oats without work?
Will anybody there, any more than here, do your work for you? If
you intend to go to work, there is no better place than right
where you are; if you do not intend to go to work you cannot get
along anywhere. Squirming and crawling about from place to place
can do no good. You have raised no crop this year, and what you
really want is to sell the land, get the money and spend it.
Part with the land you have, and, my life upon it, you will never
after own a spot big enough to bury you in. Half you will get
for the land you spend in moving to Missouri, and the other half
you will eat and drink and wear out, and no foot of land will be
bought. Now I feel it is my duty to have no hand in such a piece
of foolery. I feel that it is so even on your own account, and
particularly on Mother's account. The eastern forty acres I
intend to keep for Mother while she lives; if you will not
cultivate it, it will rent for enough to support her; at least it
will rent for something. Her dower in the other two forties she
can let you have, and no thanks to me.

Now do not misunderstand this letter. I do not write it in any
unkindness. I write it in order, if possible, to get you to face
the truth, which truth is, you are destitute because you have
idled away all your time. Your thousand pretenses for not
getting along better are all nonsense; they deceive nobody but
yourself. Go to work is the only cure for your case.

A word for Mother: Chapman tells me he wants you to go and live
with him. If I were you I would try it awhile. If you get tired
of it (as I think you will not) you can return to your own home.
Chapman feels very kindly to you; and I have no doubt he will
make your situation very pleasant.

Sincerely yours,


Nov. 4, 1851


Chapman tells me he wants you to go and live with him. If I were
you I would try it awhile. If you get tired of it (as I think
you will not) you can return to your own home. Chapman feels
very kindly to you; and I have no doubt he will make your
situation very pleasant.

Sincerely your son,



SHELBYVILLE, November 9, 1851

DEAR BROTHER :-When I wrote you before, I had not received your
letter. I still think as I did, but if the land can be sold so
that I get three hundred dollars to put to interest for Mother, I
will not object, if she does not. But before I will make a deed,
the money must be had, or secured beyond all doubt, at ten per

As to Abram, I do not want him, on my own account; but I
understand he wants to live with me, so that he can go to school
and get a fair start in the world, which I very much wish him to
have. When I reach home, if I can make it convenient to take, I
will take him, provided there is no mistake between us as to the
object and terms of my taking him. In haste, as ever,



SPRINGFIELD, November 25, 1851.

DEAR BROTHER:--Your letter of the 22d is just received. Your
proposal about selling the east forty acres of land is all that I
want or could claim for myself; but I am not satisfied with it on
Mother's account--I want her to have her living, and I feel that
it is my duty, to some extent, to see that she is not wronged.
She had a right of dower (that is, the use of one-third for life)
in the other two forties; but, it seems, she has already let you
take that, hook and line. She now has the use of the whole of
the east forty, as long as she lives; and if it be sold, of
course she is entitled to the interest on all the money it
brings, as long as she lives; but you propose to sell it for
three hundred dollars, take one hundred away with you, and leave
her two hundred at 8 per cent., making her the enormous sum of 16
dollars a year. Now, if you are satisfied with treating her in
that way, I am not. It is true that you are to have that forty
for two hundred dollars, at Mother's death, but you are not to
have it before. I am confident that land can be made to produce
for Mother at least $30 a year, and I can not, to oblige any
living person, consent that she shall be put on an allowance of
sixteen dollars a year.

Yours, etc.,




On the fourth day of July, 1776, the people of a few feeble and
oppressed colonies of Great Britain, inhabiting a portion of the
Atlantic coast of North America, publicly declared their national
independence, and made their appeal to the justice of their cause
and to the God of battles for the maintenance of that
declaration. That people were few in number and without
resources, save only their wise heads and stout hearts. Within
the first year of that declared independence, and while its
maintenance was yet problematical, while the bloody struggle
between those resolute rebels and their haughty would-be masters
was still waging,--of undistinguished parents and in an obscure
district of one of those colonies Henry Clay was born. The
infant nation and the infant child began the race of life
together. For three quarters of a century they have travelled
hand in hand. They have been companions ever. The nation has
passed its perils, and it is free, prosperous, and powerful. The
child has reached his manhood, his middle age, his old age, and
is dead. In all that has concerned the nation the man ever
sympathized; and now the nation mourns the man.

The day after his death one of the public journals, opposed to
him politically, held the following pathetic and beautiful
language, which I adopt partly because such high and exclusive
eulogy, originating with a political friend, might offend good
taste, but chiefly because I could not in any language of my own
so well express my thoughts:

"Alas, who can realize that Henry Clay is dead! Who can realize
that never again that majestic form shall rise in the council-
chambers of his country to beat back the storms of anarchy which
may threaten, or pour the oil of peace upon the troubled billows
as they rage and menace around! Who can realize that the
workings of that mighty mind have ceased, that the throbbings of
that gallant heart are stilled, that the mighty sweep of that
graceful arm will be felt no more, and the magic of that eloquent
tongue, which spake as spake no other tongue besides, is hushed
hushed for ever! Who can realize that freedom's champion, the
champion of a civilized world and of all tongues and kindreds of
people, has indeed fallen! Alas, in those dark hours of peril
and dread which our land has experienced, and which she may be
called to experience again, to whom now may her people look up
for that counsel and advice which only wisdom and experience and
patriotism can give, and which only the undoubting confidence of
a nation will receive? Perchance in the whole circle of the
great and gifted of our land there remains but one on whose
shoulders the mighty mantle of the departed statesman may fall;
one who while we now write is doubtless pouring his tears over
the bier of his brother and friend brother, friend, ever, yet in
political sentiment as far apart as party could make them. Ah,
it is at times like these that the petty distinctions of mere
party disappear. We see only the great, the grand, the noble
features of the departed statesman; and we do not even beg
permission to bow at his feet and mingle our tears with those who
have ever been his political adherents--we do [not] beg this
permission, we claim it as a right, though we feel it as a
privilege. Henry Clay belonged to his country--to the world;
mere party cannot claim men like him. His career has been
national, his fame has filled the earth, his memory will endure
to the last syllable of recorded time.

"Henry Clay is dead! He breathed his last on yesterday, at
twenty minutes after eleven, in his chamber at Washington. To
those who followed his lead in public affairs, it more
appropriately belongs to pronounce his eulogy and pay specific
honors to the memory of the illustrious dead. But all Americans
may show the grief which his death inspires, for his character
and fame are national property. As on a question of liberty he
knew no North, no South, no East, no West, but only the Union
which held them all in its sacred circle, so now his countrymen
will know no grief that is not as wide-spread as the bounds of
the confederacy. The career of Henry Clay was a public career.
From his youth he has been devoted to the public service, at a
period, too, in the world's history justly regarded as a
remarkable era in human affairs. He witnessed in the beginning
the throes of the French Revolution. He saw the rise and fall of
Napoleon. He was called upon to legislate for America and direct
her policy when all Europe was the battlefield of contending
dynasties, and when the struggle for supremacy imperilled the
rights of all neutral nations. His voice spoke war and peace in
the contest with Great Britain.

"When Greece rose against the Turks and struck for liberty, his
name was mingled with the battle-cry of freedom. When South
America threw off the thraldom of Spain, his speeches were read
at the head of her armies by Bolivar. His name has been, and
will continue to be, hallowed in two hemispheres, for it is

"'One of the few, the immortal names
That were not born to die!'

"To the ardent patriot and profound statesman he added a quality
possessed by few of the gifted on earth. His eloquence has not
been surpassed. In the effective power to move the heart of man,
Clay was without an equal, and the heaven-born endowment, in the
spirit of its origin, has been most conspicuously exhibited
against intestine feud. On at least three important occasions he
has quelled our civil commotions by a power and influence which
belonged to no other statesman of his age and times. And in our
last internal discord, when this Union trembled to its centre, in
old age he left the shades of private life, and gave the death-
blow to fraternal strife, with the vigor of his earlier years, in
a series of senatorial efforts which in themselves would bring
immortality by challenging comparison with the efforts of any
statesman in any age. He exorcised the demon which possessed the
body politic, and gave peace to a distracted land. Alas! the
achievement cost him his life. He sank day by day to the tomb
his pale but noble brow bound with a triple wreath, put there by
a grateful country. May his ashes rest in peace, while his
spirit goes to take its station among the great and good men who
preceded him."

While it is customary and proper upon occasions like the present
to give a brief sketch of the life of the deceased, in the case
of Mr. Clay it is less necessary than most others; for his
biography has been written and rewritten and read and reread for
the last twenty-five years; so that, with the exception of a few
of the latest incidents of his life, all is as well known as it
can be. The short sketch which I give is, therefore, merely to
maintain the connection of this discourse.

Henry Clay was born on the twelfth day of April, 1777, in Hanover
County, Virginia. Of his father, who died in the fourth or fifth
year of Henry's age, little seems to be known, except that he was
a respectable man and a preacher of the Baptist persuasion. Mr.
Clay's education to the end of life was comparatively limited. I
say "to the end of life," because I have understood that from
time to time he added something to his education during the
greater part of his whole life. Mr. Clay's lack of a more
perfect early education, however it may be regretted generally,
teaches at least one profitable lesson: it teaches that in this
country one can scarcely be so poor but that, if he will, he can
acquire sufficient education to get through the world
respectably. In his twenty-third year Mr. Clay was licensed to
practise law, and emigrated to Lexington, Kentucky. Here he
commenced and continued the practice till the year 1803, when he
was first elected to the Kentucky Legislature. By successive
elections he was continued in the Legislature till the latter
part of 1806, when he was elected to fill a vacancy of a single
session in the United States Senate. In 18O7 he was again
elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives, and by that
body chosen Speaker. In 1808 he was re-elected to the same body.
In 1809 he was again chosen to fill a vacancy of two years in the
United States Senate. In 1811 he was elected to the United
States House of Representatives, and on the first day of taking
his seat in that body he was chosen its Speaker. In 1813 he was
again elected Speaker. Early in 1814, being the period of our
last British war, Mr. Clay was sent as commissioner, with others,
to negotiate a treaty of peace, which treaty was concluded in the
latter part of the same year. On his return from Europe he was
again elected to the lower branch of Congress, and on taking his
seat in December, 1815, was called to his old post-the Speaker's
chair, a position in which he was retained by successive
elections, with one brief intermission, till the inauguration of
John Quincy Adams, in March, 1825. He was then appointed
Secretary of State, and occupied that important station till the
inauguration of General Jackson, in March, 1829. After this he
returned to Kentucky, resumed the practice of law, and continued
it till the autumn of 1831, when he was by the Legislature of
Kentucky again placed in the United States Senate. By a
reelection he was continued in the Senate till he resigned his
seat and retired, in March, 1848. In December, 1849, he again
took his seat in the Senate, which he again resigned only a few
months before his death.

By the foregoing it is perceived that the period from the
beginning of Mr. Clay's official life in 1803 to the end of 1852
is but one year short of half a century, and that the sum of all
the intervals in it will not amount to ten years. But mere
duration of time in office constitutes the smallest part of Mr.
Clay's history. Throughout that long period he has constantly
been the most loved and most implicitly followed by friends, and
the most dreaded by opponents, of all living American
politicians. In all the great questions which have agitated the
country, and particularly in those fearful crises, the Missouri
question, the nullification question, and the late slavery
question, as connected with the newly acquired territory,
involving and endangering the stability of the Union, his has
been the leading and most conspicuous part. In 1824 he was first
a candidate for the Presidency, and was defeated; and, although
he was successively defeated for the same office in 1832 and in
1844, there has never been a moment since 1824 till after 1848
when a very large portion of the American people did not cling to
him with an enthusiastic hope and purpose of still elevating him
to the Presidency. With other men, to be defeated was to be
forgotten; but with him defeat was but a trifling incident,
neither changing him nor the world's estimate of him. Even those
of both political parties who have been preferred to him for the
highest office have run far briefer courses than he, and left him
still shining high in the heavens of the political world.
Jackson, Van Buren, Harnson, Polk, and Taylor all rose after, and
set long before him. The spell--the long-enduring spell--with
which the souls of men were bound to him is a miracle. Who can
compass it? It is probably true he owed his pre-eminence to no
one quality, but to a fortunate combination of several. He was
surpassingly eloquent; but many eloquent men fail utterly, and
they are not, as a class, generally successful. His judgment was
excellent; but many men of good judgment live and die unnoticed.
His will was indomitable; but this quality often secures to its
owner nothing better than a character for useless obstinacy.
These, then, were Mr. Clay's leading qualities. No one of them
is very uncommon; but all together are rarely combined in a
single individual, and this is probably the reason why such men
as Henry Clay are so rare in the world.

Mr. Clay's eloquence did not consist, as many fine specimens of
eloquence do, of types and figures, of antithesis and elegant
arrangement of words and sentences, but rather of that deeply
earnest and impassioned tone and manner which can proceed only
from great sincerity, and a thorough conviction in the speaker of
the justice and importance of his cause. This it is that truly
touches the chords of sympathy; and those who heard Mr. Clay
never failed to be moved by it, or ever afterward forgot the
impression. All his efforts were made for practical effect. He
never spoke merely to be heard. He never delivered a Fourth of
July oration, or a eulogy on an occasion like this. As a
politician or statesman, no one was so habitually careful to
avoid all sectional ground. Whatever he did he did for the whole
country. In the construction of his measures, he ever carefully
surveyed every part of the field, and duly weighed every
conflicting interest. Feeling as he did, and as the truth surely
is, that the world's best hope depended on the continued union of
these States, he was ever jealous of and watchful for whatever
might have the slightest tendency to separate them.

Mr. Clay's predominant sentiment, from first to last, was a deep
devotion to the cause of human liberty--a strong sympathy with
the oppressed everywhere, and an ardent wish for their elevation.
With him this was a primary and all-controlling passion.
Subsidiary to this was the conduct of his whole life. He loved
his country partly because it was his own country, and mostly
because it was a free country; and he burned with a zeal for its
advancement, prosperity, and glory, because he saw in such the
advancement, prosperity, and glory of human liberty, human right,
and human nature. He desired the prosperity of his countrymen,
partly because they were his countrymen, but chiefly to show to
the world that free men could be prosperous.

That his views and measures were always the wisest needs not to
be affirmed; nor should it be on this occasion, where so many
thinking differently join in doing honor to his memory. A free
people in times of peace and quiet when pressed by no common
danger-naturally divide into parties. At such times the man who
is of neither party is not, cannot be, of any consequence. Mr.
Clay therefore was of a party. Taking a prominent part, as he
did, in all the great political questions of his country for the
last half century, the wisdom of his course on many is doubted
and denied by a large portion of his countrymen; and of such it
is not now proper to speak particularly. But there are many
others, about his course upon which there is little or no
disagreement amongst intelligent and patriotic Americans. Of
these last are the War of 1812, the Missouri question,
nullification, and the now recent compromise measures. In 1812
Mr. Clay, though not unknown, was still a young man. Whether we
should go to war with Great Britain being the question of the
day, a minority opposed the declaration of war by Congress, while
the majority, though apparently inclined to war, had for years
wavered, and hesitated to act decisively. Meanwhile British
aggressions multiplied, and grew more daring and aggravated. By
Mr. Clay more than any other man the struggle was brought to a
decision in Congress. The question, being now fully before
Congress, came up in a variety of ways in rapid succession, on
most of which occasions Mr. Clay spoke. Adding to all the logic
of which the subject was susceptible that noble inspiration which
came to him as it came to no other, he aroused and nerved and
inspired his friends, and confounded and bore down all
opposition. Several of his speeches on these occasions were
reported and are still extant, but the best of them all never
was. During its delivery the reporters forgot their vocation,
dropped their pens, and sat enchanted from near the beginning to
quite the close. The speech now lives only in the memory of a
few old men, and the enthusiasm with which they cherish their
recollection of it is absolutely astonishing. The precise
language of this speech we shall never know; but we do know we
cannot help knowing--that with deep pathos it pleaded the cause
of the injured sailor, that it invoked the genius of the
Revolution, that it apostrophized the names of Otis, of Henry,
and of Washington, that it appealed to the interests, the pride,
the honor, and the glory of the nation, that it shamed and
taunted the timidity of friends, that it scorned and scouted and
withered the temerity of domestic foes, that it bearded and
defied the British lion, and, rising and swelling and maddening
in its course, it sounded the onset, till the charge, the shock,
the steady struggle, and the glorious victory all passed in vivid
review before the entranced hearers.

Important and exciting as was the war question of 1812, it never
so alarmed the sagacious statesmen of the country for the safety
of the Republic as afterward did the Missouri question. This
sprang from that unfortunate source of discord--negro slavery.
When our Federal Constitution was adopted, we owned no territory
beyond the limits or ownership of the States, except the
territory northwest of the River Ohio and east of the
Mississippi. What has since been formed into the States of
Maine, Kentucky and Tennessee, was, I believe, within the limits
of or owned by Massachusetts, Virginia, and North Carolina. As
to the Northwestern Territory, provision had been made even
before the adoption of the Constitution that slavery should never
go there. On the admission of States into the Union, carved from
the territory we owned before the Constitution, no question, or
at most no considerable question, arose about slavery--those
which were within the limits of or owned by the old States
following respectively the condition of the parent State, and
those within the Northwest Territory following the previously
made provision. But in 1803 we purchased Louisiana of the
French, and it included with much more what has since been formed
into the State of Missouri. With regard to it, nothing had been
done to forestall the question of slavery. When, therefore, in
1819, Missouri, having formed a State constitution without
excluding slavery, and with slavery already actually existing
within its limits, knocked at the door of the Union for
admission, almost the entire representation of the non-
slaveholding States objected. A fearful and angry struggle
instantly followed. This alarmed thinking men more than any
previous question, because, unlike all the former, it divided the
country by geographical lines. Other questions had their
opposing partisans in all localities of the country and in almost
every family, so that no division of the Union could follow such
without a separation of friends to quite as great an extent as
that of opponents. Not so with the Missouri question. On this a
geographical line could be traced, which in the main would
separate opponents only. This was the danger. Mr. Jefferson,
then in retirement, wrote:

"I had for a long time ceased to read newspapers or to pay any
attention to public affairs, confident they were in good hands
and content to be a passenger in our bark to the shore from which
I am not distant. But this momentous question, like a firebell
in the night, awakened and filled me with terror. I considered
it at once as the knell of the Union. It is hushed, indeed, for
the moment. But this is a reprieve only, not a final sentence.
A geographical line coinciding with a marked principle, moral and
political, once conceived and held up to the angry passions of
men, will never be obliterated, and every irritation will mark it
deeper and deeper. I can say with conscious truth that there is
not a man on earth who would sacrifice more than I would to
relieve us from this heavy reproach in any practicable way.

"The cession of that kind of property--for it is so misnamed--is
a bagatelle which would not cost me a second thought if in that
way a general emancipation and expatriation could be effected,
and gradually and with due sacrifices I think it might be. But
as it is, we have the wolf by the ears, and we can neither hold
him nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and self-
preservation in the other."

Mr. Clay was in Congress, and, perceiving the danger, at once
engaged his whole energies to avert it. It began, as I have
said, in 1819; and it did not terminate till 1821. Missouri
would not yield the point; and Congress that is, a majority in
Congress--by repeated votes showed a determination not to admit
the State unless it should yield. After several failures, and
great labor on the part of Mr. Clay to so present the question
that a majority could consent to the admission, it was by a vote
rejected, and, as all seemed to think, finally. A sullen gloom
hung over the nation. All felt that the rejection of Missouri
was equivalent to a dissolution of the Union, because those
States which already had what Missouri was rejected for refusing
to relinquish would go with Missouri. All deprecated and
deplored this, but none saw how to avert it. For the judgment of
members to be convinced of the necessity of yielding was not the
whole difficulty; each had a constituency to meet and to answer
to. Mr. Clay, though worn down and exhausted, was appealed to by
members to renew his efforts at compromise. He did so, and by
some judicious modifications of his plan, coupled with laborious
efforts with individual members and his own overmastering
eloquence upon that floor, he finally secured the admission of
the State. Brightly and captivating as it had previously shown,
it was now perceived that his great eloquence was a mere
embellishment, or at most but a helping hand to his inventive
genius and his devotion to his country in the day of her extreme

After the settlement of the Missouri question, although a portion
of the American people have differed with Mr. Clay, and a
majority even appear generally to have been opposed to him on
questions of ordinary administration, he seems constantly to have
been regarded by all as the man for the crisis. Accordingly, in
the days of nullification, and more recently in the reappearance
of the slavery question connected with our territory newly
acquired of Mexico, the task of devising a mode of adjustment
seems to have been cast upon Mr. Clay by common consent--and his
performance of the task in each case was little else than a
literal fulfilment of the public expectation.

Mr. Clay's efforts in behalf of the South Americans, and
afterward in behalf of the Greeks, in the times of their
respective struggles for civil liberty, are among the finest on
record, upon the noblest of all themes, and bear ample
corroboration of what I have said was his ruling passion--a love
of liberty and right, unselfishly, and for their own sakes.

Having been led to allude to domestic slavery so frequently
already, I am unwilling to close without referring more
particularly to Mr. Clay's views and conduct in regard to it. He
ever was on principle and in feeling opposed to slavery. The
very earliest, and one of the latest, public efforts of his life,
separated by a period of more than fifty years, were both made in
favor of gradual emancipation. He did not perceive that on a
question of human right the negroes were to be excepted from the
human race. And yet Mr. Clay was the owner of slaves. Cast into
life when slavery was already widely spread and deeply seated, he
did not perceive, as I think no wise man has perceived, how it
could be at once eradicated without producing a greater evil even
to the cause of human liberty itself. His feeling and his
judgment, therefore, ever led him to oppose both extremes of
opinion on the subject. Those who would shiver into fragments
the Union of these States, tear to tatters its now venerated
Constitution, and even burn the last copy of the Bible, rather
than slavery should continue a single hour, together with all
their more halting sympathizers, have received, and are
receiving, their just execration; and the name and opinions and
influence of Mr. Clay are fully and, as I trust, effectually and
enduringly arrayed against them. But I would also, if I could,
array his name, opinions, and influence against the opposite
extreme--against a few but an increasing number of men who, for
the sake of perpetuating slavery, are beginning to assail and to
ridicule the white man's charter of freedom, the declaration that
"all men are created free and equal." So far as I have learned,
the first American of any note to do or attempt this was the late
John C. Calhoun; and if I mistake not, it soon after found its
way into some of the messages of the Governor of South Carolina.
We, however, look for and are not much shocked by political
eccentricities and heresies in South Carolina. But only last
year I saw with astonishment what purported to be a letter of a
very distinguished and influential clergyman of Virginia, copied,
with apparent approbation, into a St. Louis newspaper,
containing the following to me very unsatisfactory language:

"I am fully aware that there is a text in some Bibles that is not
in mine. Professional abolitionists have made more use of it
than of any passage in the Bible. It came, however, as I trace
it, from Saint Voltaire, and was baptized by Thomas Jefferson,
and since almost universally regarded as canonical authority`All
men are born free and equal.'

"This is a genuine coin in the political currency of our
generation. I am sorry to say that I have never seen two men of
whom it is true. But I must admit I never saw the Siamese Twins,
and therefore will not dogmatically say that no man ever saw a
proof of this sage aphorism."

This sounds strangely in republican America. The like was not
heard in the fresher days of the republic. Let us contrast with
it the language of that truly national man whose life and death
we now commemorate and lament: I quote from a speech of Mr. Clay
delivered before the American Colonization Society in 1827:

" We are reproached with doing mischief by the agitation of this
question. The society goes into no household to disturb its
domestic tranquillity. It addresses itself to no slaves to
weaken their obligations of obedience. It seeks to affect no
man's property. It neither has the power nor the will to affect
the property of any one contrary to his consent. The execution
of its scheme would augment instead of diminishing the value of
property left behind. The society, composed of free men,
conceals itself only with the free. Collateral consequences we
are not responsible for. It is not this society which has
produced the great moral revolution which the age exhibits. What
would they who thus reproach us have done? If they would
repress all tendencies toward liberty and ultimate emancipation,
they must do more than put down the benevolent efforts of this
society. They must go back to the era of our liberty and
independence, and muzzle the cannon which thunders its annual
joyous return. They must renew the slave trade, with all its
train of atrocities. They must suppress the workings of British
philanthropy, seeking to meliorate the condition of the
unfortunate West Indian slave. They must arrest the career of
South American deliverance from thraldom. They must blow out the
moral lights around us and extinguish that greatest torch of all
which America presents to a benighted world--pointing the way to
their rights, their liberties, and their happiness. And when
they have achieved all those purposes their work will be yet
incomplete. They must penetrate the human soul, and eradicate
the light of reason and the love of liberty. Then, and not till
then, when universal darkness and despair prevail, can you
perpetuate slavery and repress all sympathy and all humane and
benevolent efforts among free men in behalf of the unhappy
portion of our race doomed to bondage."

The American Colonization Society was organized in 1816. Mr.
Clay, though not its projector, was one of its earliest members;
and he died, as for many preceding years he had been, its
president. It was one of the most cherished objects of his
direct care and consideration, and the association of his name
with it has probably been its very greatest collateral support.
He considered it no demerit in the society that it tended to
relieve the slave-holders from the troublesome presence of the
free negroes; but this was far from being its whole merit in his
estimation. In the same speech from which we have quoted he

" There is a moral fitness in the idea of returning to Africa her
children, whose ancestors have been torn from her by the ruthless
hand of fraud and violence. Transplanted in a foreign land, they
will carry back to their native soil the rich fruits of religion,
civilization, law, and liberty. May it not be one of the great
designs of the Ruler of the universe, whose ways are often
inscrutable by short-sighted mortals, thus to transform an
original crime into a signal blessing to that most unfortunate
portion of the globe?"

This suggestion of the possible ultimate redemption of the
African race and African continent was made twenty-five years
ago. Every succeeding year has added strength to the hope of its
realization. May it indeed be realized. Pharaoh's country was
cursed with plagues, and his hosts were lost in the Red Sea, for
striving to retain a captive people who had already served them
more than four hundred years. May like disasters never befall
us! If, as the friends of colonization hope, the present and
coming generations of our countrymen shall by any means succeed
in freeing our land from the dangerous presence of slavery, and
at the same time in restoring a captive people to their long-lost
fatherland with bright prospects for the future, and this too so
gradually that neither races nor individuals shall have suffered
by the change, it will indeed be a glorious consummation. And if
to such a consummation the efforts of Mr. Clay shall have
contributed, it will be what he most ardently wished, and none of
his labors will have been more valuable to his country and his

But Henry Clay is dead. His long and eventful life is closed.
Our country is prosperous and powerful; but could it have been
quite all it has been, and is, and is to be, without Henry Clay?
Such a man the times have demanded, and such in the providence of
God was given us. But he is gone. Let us strive to deserve, as
far as mortals may, the continued care of Divine Providence,
trusting that in future national emergencies He will not fail to
provide us the instruments of safety and security.

NOTE. We are indebted for a copy of this speech to the courtesy
of Major Wm. H. Bailhache, formerly one of the proprietors of
the Illinois State Journal.



SPRINGFIELD, November 1, 1852

A leading article in the Daily Register of this morning has
induced some of our friends to request our opinion on the
election laws as applicable to challenged voters. We have
examined the present constitution of the State, the election law
of 1849, and the unrepealed parts of the election law in the
revised code of 1845; and we are of the opinion that any person
taking the oath prescribed in the act of 1849 is entitled to vote
unless counter-proof be made satisfactory to a majority of the
judges that such oath is untrue; and that for the purpose of
obtaining such counter-proof, the proposed voter may be asked
questions in the way of cross-examination, and other independent
testimony may be received. We base our opinion as to receiving
counter-proof upon the unrepealed Section nineteen of the
election law in the revised code.





PEKIN, MAY 12, 1853


SIR:--I hope the subject-matter of this letter will appear a
sufficient apology to you for the liberty I, a total stranger,
take in addressing you. The persons here holding two lots under
a conveyance made by you, as the attorney of Daniel M. Baily,
now nearly twenty-two years ago, are in great danger of losing
the lots, and very much, perhaps all, is to depend on the
testimony you give as to whether you did or did not account to
Baily for the proceeds received by you on this sale of the lots.
I, therefore, as one of the counsel, beg of you to fully refresh
your recollection by any means in your power before the time you
may be called on to testify. If persons should come about you,
and show a disposition to pump you on the subject, it may be no
more than prudent to remember that it may be possible they design
to misrepresent you and embarrass the real testimony you may
ultimately give. It may be six months or a year before you are
called on to testify.





SPRINGFIELD, June 22, 1854.


DEAR SIR:--You, no doubt, remember the enclosed memorandum being
handed me in your office. I have just made the desired search,
and find that no such deed has ever been here. Campbell, the
auditor, says that if it were here, it would be in his office,
and that he has hunted for it a dozen times, and could never find
it. He says that one time and another, he has heard much about
the matter, that it was not a deed for Right of Way, but a deed,
outright, for Depot-ground--at least, a sale for Depot-ground,
and there may never have been a deed. He says, if there is a
deed, it is most probable General Alexander, of Paris, has it.

Yours truly,





SPRINGFIELD, Sept. 7, 1854.


DEAR SIR:--You know how anxious I am that this Nebraska measure
shall be rebuked and condemned everywhere. Of course I hope
something from your position; yet I do not expect you to do
anything which may be wrong in your own judgment; nor would I
have you do anything personally injurious to yourself. You are,
and always have been, honestly and sincerely a Democrat; and I
know how painful it must be to an honest, sincere man to be urged
by his party to the support of a measure which in his conscience
he believes to be wrong. You have had a severe struggle with
yourself, and you have determined not to swallow the wrong. Is
it not just to yourself that you should, in a few public
speeches, state your reasons, and thus justify yourself? I wish
you would; and yet I say, don't do it, if you think it will
injure you. You may have given your word to vote for Major
Harris; and if so, of course you will stick to it. But allow me
to suggest that you should avoid speaking of this; for it
probably would induce some of your friends in like manner to cast
their votes. You understand. And now let me beg your pardon for
obtruding this letter upon you, to whom I have ever been opposed
in politics. Had your party omitted to make Nebraska a test of
party fidelity, you probably would have been the Democratic
candidate for Congress in the district. You deserved it, and I
believe it would have been given you. In that case I should have
been quite happy that Nebraska was to be rebuked at all events.
I still should have voted for the Whig candidate; but I should
have made no speeches, written no letters; and you would have
been elected by at least a thousand majority.

Yours truly,



SPRINGFIELD, September 7, 1854


SIR:--Stranger though I am, personally, being a brother in the
faith, I venture to write you. Yates can not come to your court
next week. He is obliged to be at Pike court where he has a
case, with a fee of five hundred dollars, two hundred dollars
already paid. To neglect it would be unjust to himself, and
dishonest to his client. Harris will be with you, head up and
tail up, for Nebraska. You must have some one to make an anti-
Nebraska speech. Palmer is the best, if you can get him, I
think. Jo. Gillespie, if you can not get Palmer, and somebody
anyhow, if you can get neither. But press Palmer hard. It is in
his Senatorial district, I believe.

Yours etc.,




OCTOBER 16, 1854.

I do not rise to speak now, if I can stipulate with the audience
to meet me here at half-past six or at seven o'clock. It is now
several minutes past five, and Judge Douglas has spoken over
three hours. If you hear me at all, I wish you to hear me
through. It will take me as long as it has taken him. That will
carry us beyond eight o'clock at night. Now, every one of you
who can remain that long can just as well get his supper, meet me
at seven, and remain an hour or two later. The Judge has already
informed you that he is to have an hour to reply to me. I doubt
not but you have been a little surprised to learn that I have
consented to give one of his high reputation and known ability
this advantage of me. Indeed, my consenting to it, though
reluctant, was not wholly unselfish, for I suspected, if it were
understood that the Judge was entirely done, you Democrats would
leave and not hear me; but by giving him the close, I felt
confident you would stay for the fun of hearing him skin me.

The audience signified their assent to the arrangement, and
adjourned to seven o'clock P.M., at which time they reassembled,
and Mr. Lincoln spoke substantially as follows:

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and the propriety of its
restoration, constitute the subject of what I am about to say.
As I desire to present my own connected view of this subject, my
remarks will not be specifically an answer to Judge Douglas; yet,
as I proceed, the main points he has presented will arise, and
will receive such respectful attention as I may be able to give
them. I wish further to say that I do not propose to question
the patriotism or to assail the motives of any man or class of
men, but rather to confine myself strictly to the naked merits of
the question. I also wish to be no less than national in all the
positions I may take, and whenever I take ground which others
have thought, or may think, narrow, sectional, and dangerous to
the Union, I hope to give a reason which will appear sufficient,
at least to some, why I think differently.

And as this subject is no other than part and parcel of the
larger general question of domestic slavery, I wish to make and
to keep the distinction between the existing institution and the
extension of it so broad and so clear that no honest man can
misunderstand me, and no dishonest one successfully misrepresent

In order to a clear understanding of what the Missouri Compromise
is, a short history of the preceding kindred subjects will
perhaps be proper.

When we established our independence, we did not own or claim the
country to which this compromise applies. Indeed, strictly
speaking, the Confederacy then owned no country at all; the
States respectively owned the country within their limits, and
some of them owned territory beyond their strict State limits.
Virginia thus owned the Northwestern Territory--the country out
of which the principal part of Ohio, all Indiana, all Illinois,
all Michigan, and all Wisconsin have since been formed. She also
owned (perhaps within her then limits) what has since been formed
into the State of Kentucky. North Carolina thus owned what is
now the State of Tennessee; and South Carolina and Georgia owned,
in separate parts, what are now Mississippi and Alabama.
Connecticut, I think, owned the little remaining part of Ohio,
being the same where they now send Giddings to Congress and beat
all creation in making cheese.

These territories, together with the States themselves,
constitute all the country over which the Confederacy then
claimed any sort of jurisdiction. We were then living under the
Articles of Confederation, which were superseded by the
Constitution several years afterward. The question of ceding the
territories to the General Government was set on foot. Mr.
Jefferson,--the author of the Declaration of Independence, and
otherwise a chief actor in the Revolution; then a delegate in
Congress; afterward, twice President; who was, is, and perhaps
will continue to be, the most distinguished politician of our
history; a Virginian by birth and continued residence, and withal
a slaveholder,--conceived the idea of taking that occasion to
prevent slavery ever going into the Northwestern Territory. He
prevailed on the Virginia Legislature to adopt his views, and to
cede the Territory, making the prohibition of slavery therein a
condition of the deed. (Jefferson got only an understanding, not
a condition of the deed to this wish.) Congress accepted the
cession with the condition; and the first ordinance (which the
acts of Congress were then called) for the government of the
Territory provided that slavery should never be permitted
therein. This is the famed "Ordinance of '87," so often spoken

Thenceforward for sixty-one years, and until, in 1848, the last
scrap of this Territory came into the Union as the State of
Wisconsin, all parties acted in quiet obedience to this
ordinance. It is now what Jefferson foresaw and intended--the
happy home of teeming millions of free, white, prosperous people,
and no slave among them.

Thus, with the author of the Declaration of Independence, the
policy of prohibiting slavery in new territory originated. Thus,
away back to the Constitution, in the pure, fresh, free breath of
the Revolution, the State of Virginia and the national Congress
put that policy into practice. Thus, through more than sixty of
the best years of the republic, did that policy steadily work to
its great and beneficent end. And thus, in those five States,
and in five millions of free, enterprising people, we have before
us the rich fruits of this policy.

But now new light breaks upon us. Now Congress declares this
ought never to have been, and the like of it must never be again.
The sacred right of self-government is grossly violated by it.
We even find some men who drew their first breath--and every
other breath of their lives--under this very restriction, now
live in dread of absolute suffocation if they should be
restricted in the "sacred right" of taking slaves to Nebraska.
That perfect liberty they sigh for--the liberty of making slaves
of other people, Jefferson never thought of, their own fathers
never thought of, they never thought of themselves, a year ago.
How fortunate for them they did not sooner become sensible of
their great misery! Oh, how difficult it is to treat with respect
such assaults upon all we have ever really held sacred!

But to return to history. In 1803 we purchased what was then
called Louisiana, of France. It included the present States of
Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and Iowa; also the Territory of
Minnesota, and the present bone of contention, Kansas and
Nebraska. Slavery already existed among the French at New
Orleans, and to some extent at St. Louis. In 1812 Louisiana
came into the Union as a slave State, without controversy. In
1818 or '19, Missouri showed signs of a wish to come in with
slavery. This was resisted by Northern members of Congress; and
thus began the first great slavery agitation in the nation. This
controversy lasted several months, and became very angry and
exciting--the House of Representatives voting steadily for the
prohibition of slavery in Missouri, and the Senate voting as
steadily against it. Threats of the breaking up of the Union
were freely made, and the ablest public men of the day became
seriously alarmed. At length a compromise was made, in which, as
in all compromises, both sides yielded something. It was a law,
passed on the 6th of March, 1820, providing that Missouri might
come into the Union with slavery, but that in all the remaining
part of the territory purchased of France which lies north of
thirty-six degrees and thirty minutes north latitude, slavery
should never be permitted. This provision of law is the
"Missouri Compromise." In excluding slavery north of the line,
the same language is employed as in the Ordinance of 1787. It
directly applied to Iowa, Minnesota, and to the present bone of
contention, Kansas and Nebraska. Whether there should or should
not be slavery south of that line, nothing was said in the law.
But Arkansas constituted the principal remaining part south of
the line; and it has since been admitted as a slave State,
without serious controversy. More recently, Iowa, north of the
line, came in as a free State without controversy. Still later,
Minnesota, north of the line, had a territorial organization
without controversy. Texas, principally south of the line, and
west of Arkansas, though originally within the purchase from
France, had, in 1819, been traded off to Spain in our treaty for
the acquisition of Florida. It had thus become a part of Mexico.
Mexico revolutionized and became independent of Spain. American
citizens began settling rapidly with their slaves in the southern
part of Texas. Soon they revolutionized against Mexico, and
established an independent government of their own, adopting a
constitution with slavery, strongly resembling the constitutions
of our slave States. By still another rapid move, Texas,
claiming a boundary much farther west than when we parted with
her in 1819, was brought back to the United States, and admitted
into the Union as a slave State. Then there was little or no
settlement in the northern part of Texas, a considerable portion
of which lay north of the Missouri line; and in the resolutions
admitting her into the Union, the Missouri restriction was
expressly extended westward across her territory. This was in
1845, only nine years ago.

Thus originated the Missouri Compromise; and thus has it been
respected down to 1845. And even four years later, in 1849, our
distinguished Senator, in a public address, held the following
language in relation to it:

"The Missouri Compromise has been in practical operation for
about a quarter of a century, and has received the sanction and
approbation of men of all parties in every section of the Union.
It has allayed all sectional jealousies and irritations growing
out of this vexed question, and harmonized and tranquillized the
whole country. It has given to Henry Clay, as its prominent
champion, the proud sobriquet of the "Great Pacificator," and by
that title, and for that service, his political friends had
repeatedly appealed to the people to rally under his standard as
a Presidential candidate, as the man who had exhibited the
patriotism and power to suppress an unholy and treasonable
agitation, and preserve the Union. He was not aware that any man
or any party, from any section of the Union, had ever urged as an
objection to Mr. Clay that he was the great champion of the
Missouri Compromise. On the contrary, the effort was made by the
opponents of Mr. Clay to prove that he was not entitled to the
exclusive merit of that great patriotic measure, and that the
honor was equally due to others, as well as to him, for securing
its adoption; that it had its origin in the hearts of all
patriotic men, who desired to preserve and perpetuate the
blessings of our glorious Union--an origin akin to that of the
Constitution of the United States, conceived in the same spirit
of fraternal affection, and calculated to remove forever the only
danger which seemed to threaten, at some distant day, to sever
the social bond of union. All the evidences of public opinion at
that day seemed to indicate that this compromise had been
canonized in the hearts of the American people, as a sacred thing
which no ruthless hand would ever be reckless enough to disturb."

I do not read this extract to involve Judge Douglas in an
inconsistency. If he afterward thought he had been wrong, it was
right for him to change. I bring this forward merely to show the
high estimate placed on the Missouri Compromise by all parties up
to so late as the year 1849.

But going back a little in point of time. Our war with Mexico
broke out in 1846. When Congress was about adjourning that
session, President Polk asked them to place two millions of
dollars under his control, to be used by him in the recess, if
found practicable and expedient, in negotiating a treaty of peace
with Mexico, and acquiring some part of her territory. A bill
was duly gotten up for the purpose, and was progressing
swimmingly in the House of Representatives, when a member by the
name of David Wilmot, a Democrat from Pennsylvania, moved as an
amendment, "Provided, that in any territory thus acquired there
never shall be slavery."

This is the origin of the far-famed Wilmot Proviso. It created a
great flutter; but it stuck like wax, was voted into the bill,
and the bill passed with it through the House. The Senate,
however, adjourned without final action on it, and so both
appropriation and proviso were lost for the time. The war
continued, and at the next session the President renewed his
request for the appropriation, enlarging the amount, I think, to
three millions. Again came the proviso, and defeated the
measure. Congress adjourned again, and the war went on. In
December, 1847, the new Congress assembled. I was in the lower
House that term. The Wilmot Proviso, or the principle of it, was
constantly coming up in some shape or other, and I think I may
venture to say I voted for it at least forty times during the
short time I was there. The Senate, however, held it in check,
and it never became a law. In the spring of 1848 a treaty of
peace was made with Mexico, by which we obtained that portion of
her country which now constitutes the Territories of New Mexico
and Utah and the present State of California. By this treaty the
Wilmot Proviso was defeated, in so far as it was intended to be a
condition of the acquisition of territory. Its friends, however,
were still determined to find some way to restrain slavery from
getting into the new country. This new acquisition lay directly
west of our old purchase from France, and extended west to the
Pacific Ocean, and was so situated that if the Missouri line
should be extended straight west, the new country would be
divided by such extended line, leaving some north and some south
of it. On Judge Douglas's motion, a bill, or provision of a
bill, passed the Senate to so extend the Missouri line. The
proviso men in the House, including myself, voted it down,
because, by implication, it gave up the southern part to slavery,
while we were bent on having it all free.

In the fall of 1848 the gold-mines were discovered in California.
This attracted people to it with unprecedented rapidity, so that
on, or soon after, the meeting of the new Congress in December,
1849, she already had a population of nearly a hundred thousand,
had called a convention, formed a State constitution excluding
slavery, and was knocking for admission into the Union. The
proviso men, of course, were for letting her in, but the Senate,
always true to the other side, would not consent to her
admission, and there California stood, kept out of the Union
because she would not let slavery into her borders. Under all
the circumstances, perhaps, this was not wrong. There were other
points of dispute connected with the general question of Slavery,
which equally needed adjustment. The South clamored for a more
efficient fugitive slave law. The North clamored for the
abolition of a peculiar species of slave trade in the District of
Columbia, in connection with which, in view from the windows of
the Capitol, a sort of negro livery-stable, where droves of
negroes were collected, temporarily kept, and finally taken to
Southern markets, precisely like droves of horses, had been
openly maintained for fifty years. Utah and New Mexico needed
territorial governments; and whether slavery should or should not
be prohibited within them was another question. The indefinite
western boundary of Texas was to be settled. She was a slave
State, and consequently the farther west the slavery men could
push her boundary, the more slave country they secured; and the
farther east the slavery opponents could thrust the boundary
back, the less slave ground was secured. Thus this was just as
clearly a slavery question as any of the others.

These points all needed adjustment, and they were held up,
perhaps wisely, to make them help adjust one another. The Union
now, as in 1820, was thought to be in danger, and devotion to the
Union rightfully inclined men to yield somewhat in points where
nothing else could have so inclined them. A compromise was
finally effected. The South got their new fugitive slave law,
and the North got California, (by far the best part of our
acquisition from Mexico) as a free State. The South got a
provision that New Mexico and Utah, when admitted as States, may
come in with or without slavery as they may then choose; and the
North got the slave trade abolished in the District of Columbia..
The North got the western boundary of Texas thrown farther back
eastward than the South desired; but, in turn, they gave Texas
ten millions of dollars with which to pay her old debts. This is
the Compromise of 1850.

Preceding the Presidential election of 1852, each of the great
political parties, Democrats and Whigs, met in convention and
adopted resolutions indorsing the Compromise of '50, as a
"finality," a final settlement, so far as these parties could
make it so, of all slavery agitation. Previous to this, in 1851,
the Illinois Legislature had indorsed it.

During this long period of time, Nebraska (the Nebraska
Territory, not the State of as we know it now) had remained
substantially an uninhabited country, but now emigration to and
settlement within it began to take place. It is about one third
as large as the present United States, and its importance, so
long overlooked, begins to come into view. The restriction of
slavery by the Missouri Compromise directly applies to it--in
fact was first made, and has since been maintained expressly for
it. In 1853, a bill to give it a territorial government passed
the House of Representatives, and, in the hands of Judge Douglas,
failed of passing only for want of time. This bill contained no
repeal of the Missouri Compromise. Indeed, when it was assailed
because it did not contain such repeal, Judge Douglas defended it
in its existing form. On January 4, 1854, Judge Douglas
introduces a new bill to give Nebraska territorial government.
He accompanies this bill with a report, in which last he
expressly recommends that the Missouri Compromise shall neither
be affirmed nor repealed. Before long the bill is so modified as
to make two territories instead of one, calling the southern one

Also, about a month after the introduction of the bill, on the
Judge's own motion it is so amended as to declare the Missouri
Compromise inoperative and void; and, substantially, that the
people who go and settle there may establish slavery, or exclude
it, as they may see fit. In this shape the bill passed both
branches of Congress and became a law.

This is the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. The foregoing
history may not be precisely accurate in every particular, but I
am sure it is sufficiently so for all the use I shall attempt to
make of it, and in it we have before us the chief material
enabling us to judge correctly whether the repeal of the Missouri
Compromise is right or wrong. I think, and shall try to show,
that it is wrong--wrong in its direct effect, letting slavery
into Kansas and Nebraska, and wrong in its prospective principle,
allowing it to spread to every other part of the wide world where
men can be found inclined to take it.

This declared indifference, but, as I must think, covert real
zeal, for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it
because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it
because it deprives our republican example of its just influence
in the world; enables the enemies of free institutions with
plausibility to taunt us as hypocrites; causes the real friends
of freedom to doubt our sincerity; and especially because it
forces so many good men among ourselves into an open war with the
very fundamental principles of civil liberty, criticizing the
Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right
principle of action but self-interest.

Before proceeding let me say that I think I have no prejudice
against the Southern people. They are just what we would be in
their situation. If slavery did not now exist among them, they
would not introduce it. If it did now exist among us, we should
not instantly give it up. This I believe of the masses North and
South. Doubtless there are individuals on both sides who would
not hold slaves under any circumstances, and others who would
gladly introduce slavery anew if it were out of existence. We
know that some Southern men do free their slaves, go North and
become tip-top abolitionists, while some Northern ones go South
and become most cruel slave masters.

When Southern people tell us that they are no more responsible
for the origin of slavery than we are, I acknowledge the fact.
When it is said that the institution exists, and that it is very
difficult to get rid of it in any satisfactory way, I can
understand and appreciate the saying. I surely will not blame
them for not doing what I should not know how to do myself. If
all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do as
to the existing institution. My first impulse would be to free
all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native
land. But a moment's reflection would convince me that whatever
of high hope (as I think there is) there may be in this in the
long run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were all
landed there in a day, they would all perish in the next ten
days; and there are not surplus shipping and surplus money enough
to carry them there in many times ten days. What then? Free
them all, and keep them among us as underlings? Is it quite
certain that this betters their condition? I think I would not
hold one in slavery at any rate, yet the point is not clear
enough for me to denounce people upon. What next? Free them,
and make them politically and socially our equals? My own
feelings will not admit of this, and if mine would, we well know
that those of the great mass of whites will not. Whether this
feeling accords with justice and sound judgment is not the sole
question, if indeed it is any part of it. A universal feeling,
whether well or ill founded, cannot be safely disregarded. We
cannot then make them equals. It does seem to me that systems of
gradual emancipation might be adopted, but for their tardiness in
this I will not undertake to judge our brethren of the South.

When they remind us of their constitutional rights, I acknowledge
them--not grudgingly, but fully and fairly; and I would give them
any legislation for the reclaiming of their fugitives which
should not in its stringency be more likely to carry a free man
into slavery than our ordinary criminal laws are to hang an
innocent one.

But all this, to my judgment, furnishes no more excuse for
permitting slavery to go into our own free territory than it
would for reviving the African slave trade by law. The law which
forbids the bringing of slaves from Africa, and that which has so
long forbidden the taking of them into Nebraska, can hardy be
distinguished on any moral principle, and the repeal of the
former could find quite as plausible excuses as that of the

The arguments by which the repeal of the Missouri Compromise is
sought to be justified are these:

First. That the Nebraska country needed a territorial

Second. That in various ways the public had repudiated that
compromise and demanded the repeal, and therefore should not now
complain of it.

And, lastly, That the repeal establishes a principle which is
intrinsically right.

I will attempt an answer to each of them in its turn.

First, then: If that country was in need of a territorial
organization, could it not have had it as well without as with a
repeal? Iowa and Minnesota, to both of which the Missouri
restriction applied,
had, without its repeal, each in succession, territorial
organizations. And even the year before, a bill for Nebraska
itself was within an ace of passing without the repealing clause,
and this in the hands of the same men who are now the champions
of repeal. Why no necessity then for repeal? But still later,

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