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Chapter 12.

  • Speech before the Scott Club.
  • -- a talk with John T. Stuart. -- newspapers and political literature. -- passage of the Kansas -- Nebraska bill. -- the signs of discontent. -- the arrival of Douglas in Chicago. -- speech at the State fair. -- the answer of Lincoln. -- the article in the conservative. -- Lincoln's escape from the Abolitionists. -- following up Douglas. -- breach of agreement by Douglas. -- the contest in the Legislature for Senator. -- Lincoln's magnanimity. -- election of Trumbull. -- interview with the Governor of Illinois. -- the outrages in the territories. -- Lincoln's judicious counsel. -- a letter to Speed. -- the call for the Bloomington convention. -- Lincoln's telegram. -- speech at the convention. -- the ratification at Springfield. -- the campaign of 1856. -- demands for Lincoln. -- the letter to the Nillmore men.

While Lincoln in a certain sense was buried in the law from the time his career in Congress closed till, to use his own words, “the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused him again,” yet he was a careful student of his times and kept abreast of the many and varied movements in politics. He was generally on the Whig electoral tickets, and made himself heard during each successive canvas,1

1 In the campaign of 1852, when Pierce was the Democratic candidate for President, Douglas made speeches for him in almost every State in the Union. His “key-note” was sounded at Richmond, Va. Lincoln, whose reputation was limited by the boundaries of Illinois, was invited by the Scott Club of Springfield to answer it, but his soul and heart were not in the undertaking. He had not yet been awakened, and, considering it entire, the speech was a poor effort. Another has truthfully said of it, “If it was distinguished by one quality above another it was by its attempts at humor, and all those attempts were strained and affected, as well as very coarse. He displayed a Jealous and petulant temper from the first to the last, wholly beneath the dignity of the occasion and the importance of the topic. Considered as a whole it may be said that none of his public performances was more unworthy of its really noble author than this one.” The closing paragraph will serve as a fair sample of the entire speech: “Let us stand by our candidate [Gen. Scott] as faithfully as he has always stood by our country, and I much doubt if we do not perceive a slight abatement of Judge Douglas's confidence in Providence as well as the people. I suspect that confidence is not more firmly fixed with the Judge than it was with the old woman whose horse ran away with her in a buggy. She said she trusted in Providence till the ‘britchen’ broke, and then she didn't know what on ‘airth’ to do. The chance is the Judge will see the ‘britchen’ broke, and then he can at his leisure bewail the fate of Locofocoism as the victim of misplaced confidence.”

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