« PreviousContinue »
- and with an expression of a sense of responsibility which almost amounted to sadness. And in both speech and letter there appears that mingling of firmness and selfdistrust, that determination and that reliance upon a higher power which marked Mr. Lincoln's words and conduct throughout his public life. When, after bis election, the time had arrived for him to leave his quiet home for the capital of his distracted country, he addressed his friends and neighbors in the following few brief sentences. But few and brief although they are, how fully they express a just and large appreciation of the crisis in which he was called to power, how imbued they are with the man's tenderness, and the statesman's trust in God!
PARTING SPEECH AT ILLINOIS, FEB. 11th, 1860.
My Friends—No one, not in my position, can appreciate the sadness I feel at this parting. To this people I owe all that I am. Here I have lived more than a quarter of a century; here my children were born, and here one of them lies buried. I know not how soon I shall see you again. A duty devolves upon me, which is, perhaps, greater than that which has devolved upon any other man since the days of WASHINGTON. He never would have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I cannot succeed without the same Divine aid which sustained him, and on the same Almighty Being I place my reliance for support, and I hope you, my friends, will all pray that I may receive that Divine assistance, without which I cannot succeed, but with which, success is certain. Again I bid you all an affectionate farewell.
His journey to Washington was a progress like that of a monarch in olden time—he, that simple, unassuming, almost rude frontiersman and village lawyer. He was met at every station by throngs of people eager to cheer and encourage him, and to hear a word of cheer and encouragement in return. In what he said he of course repeated himself often, and on some occasions he merely uttered a kindly sentence or two, which was cut short by the impatient shriek of the railway engine. The following are all the speeches made by him upon his journey, to which the above remarks do not apply:
SPEECHES AT INDIANAPOLIS. Gov. Morton and Felloro-Citizens of the State of Indiana–Most heartily do I thank you for this magnificent reception, and while I cannot take to myself any share of the compliment thus paid, more than that which pertains to a mere instrument, an accidental instrument, perhaps I should say, of a great cause, I yet must look upon it as a most magnificent reception, and as such, most heartily do thank you for it. You have been pleased to address yourself to me chiefly in behalf of this glorious Union in which we live, in all of which you have my hearty sympathy, and, as far as may be within my power, will have, one and inseparably, my hearty, consideration; while I do not expect upon this occasion, or until I get to Washington, to attempt any lengthy speech, I will only say, To the salvation of the Union there needs but one single thing, the hearts of a people like yours. [Applause.]
The people, when they rise in mass in behalf of the Union and the liberties of their country, truly may it be said, “The gates of hell cannot prevail against them." [Renewed applause.] In all trying positions in which I shall be placed, and, doubtless I shall be placed in many such, my reliance will be placed upon you and the people of the United States; and I wish you to remember, now and forever, that it is your business, and not mine; that if the union of these States, and the liberties of this people shall be lost, it is but little to any one man of fifty-two years of age, but a great deal to the thirty millions of people who inhabit these United States, and to their posterity in all coming time. It is your business to rise up and preserve the Union and liberty for yourselves, and not for me.
I desire they should be constitutionally performed. I, as already intimated, am but an accidental instrument, temporary, and to serve but for a limited time, and I appeal to you again to constantly bear in mind that with you, and not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office-seekers, but with you, is the question, Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generations ? [Cheers.]
The above speech was delivered in front of the. Bates House, at Indianapolis, to a promiscuous assemblage, among which appeared the governor and members of both houses of the State Legislature. That which follows was made at the same hotel in the evening, in response to a formal welcome from the Legislature.
Felloro-Citizens of the State of Indiana~I am here to thank you much for this magnificent welcome, and still more for the generous support given by your State to that political cause which I think is the true and just cause of the whole country and the whole world.
Solomon says, there is " a time to keep silence,” and when men wrangle by the mouth with no certainty that they mean the same thing, while using the same word, it perhaps were as well if they would keep silence.
The words “coercion” and “invasion” are much used in these days, and often with some temper and hot blood. Let us make sure, if we can, that we do not misunderstand the meaning of those who use them. Let us get exact definitions of these words, not from dictionaries, but from the men themselves, who certainly depreciate the things they would represent by the use of words. What, then, is “Coercion ?" What is “Invasion ?" Would the marching of an army into South Carolina without the consent of her people, and with hostile intent towards them, be “invasion ?” I certainly think it would; and it would be " coercion” also if the South Carolinians were forced to submit. But if the United States should merely hold and retake its own forts and other property, and collect the duties on foreign importations, or even withhold the mails from places where they were habitually violated, would any or all these things be “invasion” or “coercion ?" Do our professed lovers of the Union, but who spitefully resolve that they will resist coercion and invasion, understand that such things as these, on the part of the United States, would be coercion or invasion of a State ? If so, their ideas of means to preserve the object of their affection would seem exceedingly thin and airy. If sick, the little pills of the homeopathists would be too large for it to swallow. In their view, the Union, as a family relation, would seem to be no regular marriage, but a sort of " free love” arrangement, to be maintained only on “passional attraction.”
By the way, in what consists the special sacredness of a State? I speak not of the position assigned to a State in the Union, by the Constitution; for that, by the bond, we all recognize. That position, however, a State cannot carry out of the Union with it. I speak of that assumed primary right of a State to rule all which is less than itself and ruin all which is larger than itself. If a State and a county in a given case, should be equal in extent of territory, and equal in number of inhabitants, in what. as a matter of principle, is the State better than the county ? Would an exchange of names be an exchange of rights upon principle ? On what rightful principle may a State, being not more than one-fiftieth part of the nation, in 'soil and population, break up the nation, and then coerce a proportionally larger subdivision of itself, in the most arbitrary way? What mysterious right to play tyrant is conferred on a district of country, with its people, by merely calling it a State ?
Fellow-citizens, I am not asserting anything; I am merely asking questions for you to consider. And now allow me to bid you farewell.
SPEECH AT CINCINNATI.
Mr. Mayor and Fellor-Citizens—I have spoken but once be- . fore this in Cincinnati. That was a year previous to the late Presidential election. On that occasion, in a playful manner, but with sincere words, I addressed much of what I said to the Ken
tuckians. I gave my opinion that we, as Republicans, would ultimately beat them, as Democrats, but that they could postpone that result longer by nominating Senator Douglas for the Presidency than they could in any other way. They did not, in any true sense of the word, nominate Mr. Douglas, and the result has come certainly as soon as ever I expected. I also told them how I expected they would be treated after they should have been beaten ; and I now wish to call their attention to what I then said upon that subject. I then said, “When we do as we say, beat you, you perhaps want to know what we will do with you. I will tell you, as far as I am authorized to speak for the opposition, what we mean to do with you. We mean to treat you as near as we possibly can, as Washington, Jefferson, and Mad ison treated you. We mean to leave you alone, and in no way to interfere with your institutions; to abide by all and every compromise of the Constitution; and, in a word, coming back to the original proposition, to treat you, so far as degenerate men, if we have degenerated, may, according to the example of those noble fathers, WASHINGTON, JEFFERSON and MADISON. We mean to remember that you are as good as we; that there is no difference between us, other than the difference of circumstances. We mean to recognize and bear in mind always that you have as good hearts in your bosoms as any people, or as we claim to have, and treat you accordingly.
Fellow-citizens of Kentucky! friends! brethren, may I call you in my new position? I see no occasion, and feel no inclination to retract a word of this. If it shall not be made good, be assured the fault shall not be mine.
SPEECH AT COLUMBUS. Mr. President and Mr. Speaker, and Gentlemen of the General Assembly—It is true, as has been said by the President of the Senate, that very great responsibility rests upon me in the position to which the votes of the American people have called me. I am deeply sensible of that weighty responsibility. I
cannot but know what you all know, that without a name, per· haps without a reason why I should have a name, there has fallen upon me a task such as did not rest even upon the Father