intended to approach him with an invitation, I hunted up Lincoln
and urged him to avoid meeting the enthusiastic champion of Abolitionism.
“Go home at once,” I said.
“Take Bob with you and drive somewhere into the country and stay till this thing is over.”
Whether my admonition and reasoning moved him or not I do not know, but it only remains to state that under pretence of having business in Tazewell county
he drove out of town in his buggy, and did not return till the apostles of Abolitionism had separated and gone to their homes.1
I have always believed this little arrangement — it would dignify it too much to call it a plan — saved Lincoln
If he had endorsed the resolutions passed at the meeting, or spoken simply in favor of freedom that night, he would have been identified with all the rancor and extremes of Abolitionism.
If, on the contrary, he had been invited to join them, and then had refused to take a position as advanced as theirs, he would have lost their support.
In either event he was in great danger; and so he who was aspiring to succeed his old rival, James Shields
, in the United States Senate was forced to avoid the issue by driving hastily in his one horse buggy to the court in Tazewell county
A singular coincidence suggests itself in the fact that, twelve years before, James Shields
and a friend drove hastily in the same direction, and destined for the same point, to force Lincoln
to take issue in another and entirely different matter.