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the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, he sent an answer, under date of April 6, 1859, which is a gem in political literature, and here also he asserts the supremacy of those truths for which he had battled so well. In him the West spoke to the East, pleading for Human Rights, as declared by our fathers.
"But, soberly, it is now no child's play to save the principles of Jefferson from total overthrow in this nation.
"One would state with great confidence that he could convince any sane child that the simpler propositions of Euclid are true; but, nevertheless, he would fail utterly with one who should deny the definitions and axioms. The principles of Jefferson are the definitions and axioms of free society, and yet they are denied and evaded with no small show of success. One dashingly calls them 'glittering generalities'; another bluntly calls them 'self-evident lies'; and others insidiously argue that they apply only to superior races.'
"These expressions, differing in form, are identical in object and effect, the supplanting the principles of free government, and restoring those of classification, caste, and legitimacy. They would delight a convocation of crowned heads plotting against the people. They are the van-guard, the miners and sappers, of returning despotism. We must repulse them, or they will subjugate us.
"This is a world of compensations; and he who would be no slave must consent to have no slave. Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves, and, under a just God, cannot long retain it.
"All honor to Jefferson, the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single. people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, and so to embalm it there, that to-day, and in all coming days, it shall be a rebuke and
a stumbling-block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression !"1
Next winter the Western champion appeared at New York, and in a remarkable address at the Cooper Institute, February 27, 1860, vindicated the policy of the Fathers and the principles of the Republican party. Showing with curious skill and minuteness the original understanding on the power of Congress over Slavery in the Territories, he demonstrated that the Republican party was not in any just sense sectional; and then exposed the perils from the pretensions of slave-masters, who, not content with requiring that "we must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure," insisted that the Constitution must be so interpreted as to uphold the idea of property in man. The whole address was subdued and argumentative, while each sentence was like a driven nail, with a concluding rally that was a bugle-call to the lovers of right. "Let us have faith," said he, "that right makes might, and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it."
A few months later, this champion of the Right, who would not see the colored man shut out from the promises of the Declaration, and insisted upon the exclusion of Slavery from the Territories, after summoning his countrymen to their duty, was nominated by a great political party as candidate for President. Local considerations, securing to him the support of certain States. beyond any other candidate, exercised a final influence. in determining this selection; but it is easy to see how, from position, character, and origin, he was at that
1 Boston Daily Advertiser, April 14, 1859.
moment especially the representative of his country. The Unity of the Republic was menaced: he was from that vast controlling Northwest which would never renounce its communications with the sea, whether by the Mississippi or by eastern avenues. The birthday Declaration of the Republic was dishonored in the denial of its primal truths: he was already known as a volunteer in its defence. Republican institutions were in jeopardy he was the child of humble life, through whom republican institutions would stand confessed. These things, so obvious now in the light of history, were less apparent then in the turmoil of party. But that Providence in whose hands are the destinies of nations, which had found out Washington to conduct his country through the War of Independence, now found out Lincoln to wage the new battle for the Unity of the Republic on the foundation of Human Rights.
The election took place. Of the popular votes, Abraham Lincoln received 1,866,452, carrying 180 electoral ballots; Stephen A. Douglas received 1,375,157, carrying 12 electoral ballots; John C. Breckinridge received 847,953, carrying 72 electoral ballots; and John Bell received 590,631, carrying 39 electoral ballots. By this vote Abraham Lincoln became President. The triumph at the ballot-box was flashed by telegraph over the whole country, from north to south, from east to west. It was answered by defiance from the Slave-Masters, speaking in the name of State Rights and for the sake of Slavery. The declared will of the American people, registered at the ballot-box, was set at nought. The conspiracy of years blazed into day. The National Government, which Alexander H. Stephens characterized as "the best and freest government, the most equal in its
rights, the most just in its decisions, the most lenient in its measures, and the most aspiring in its principles to elevate the race of men, that the sun of heaven ever shone upon," and which Jefferson Davis himself pronounced "the best government which has ever been instituted by man," 2- that National Government, thus painted even by its enemies, was spurned. South Carolina jumped forward first in crime; and before the elected President turned his face from the beautiful Western prairies to enter upon his dangerous duties, State after State had undertaken to abandon its place in the Union, Senator after Senator had dropped from his seat, fort after fort had been seized, and the mutterings of war had begun to fill the air, while the actual President, besotted by Slavery, tranquilly witnessed the gigantic treason, as he sat at ease in the Executive Mansion, and did nothing.
It was time for another to come upon the scene. You cannot forget how he left his village home, never to return, except under the escort of Death. In words of farewell to neighbors thronging about him, he dedicated himself to his country and solemnly invoked the aid of Divine Providence. "I know not," he said, "how soon I shall see you again"; and then, with prophetic voice, announced that a duty devolved upon him "greater than that which has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington," and asked his friends to pray that he might receive that Divine assistance, without which he could not succeed, but with which success
1 Speech before the State Convention of Georgia, January 18, 1861 : McPherson's Political History of the United States during the Great Rebellion (2d edit.), p. 26.
2 Speech in the Senate of the United States, December 10, 1860: Congressional Globe, 36th Cong. 2d Sess., p. 29.
was certain. To power and fame others have gone forth with gladness and with song: he went forth prayerfully, as to sacrifice.
Nor can you forget how at each resting-place on the road he renewed his vows, and when at Independence Hall his soul broke forth in homage to the vital truths there declared. Of all that he said on the journey to the National Capital, after farewell to his neighbors, there is nothing so prophetic as these unpremeditated words:
"All the political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far as I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments which originated in, and were given to the world from, this Hall. I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. . . . . Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I shall consider myself one of the happiest men in the world, if I can help to save it. If it cannot be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle, I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it."1
Then, after adding that he had not expected to say a word, he repeated the consecration of his life, exclaiming, "I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by, and, if it be the pleasure of Almighty God, to die by." 2
He was about to raise the national banner over the old Hall. But before this service, he took up the strain he loved so well, saying: "It is on such an occasion as this that we can reason together, reaffirm our devotion to the country and the principles of the Declaration of Independence." 3
1 Raymond's Life of Lincoln, pp. 154, 155.