the character, the language of this speaker?
How would he impress the great editor Horace Greeley
, who sat among the invited guests; David Dudley Field, the great lawyer, who escorted him to the platform; William Cullen Bryant
, the great poet, who presided over the meeting?
Judging from after effects, the audience quickly forgot these questioning thoughts.
They had but time to note Mr. Lincoln
's impressive stature, his strongly marked features, the clear ring of his rather high-pitched voice, and the almost commanding earnestness of his manner.
His beginning foreshadowed a dry argument, using as a text Douglas
's phrase that “our fathers, when they framed the government under which we live, understood this question just as well and even better than we do now.”
But the concise statements, the strong links of reasoning, and the irresistible conclusions of the argument with which the speaker followed his close historical analysis of how “our fathers” understood “this question,” held every listener as though each were individually merged in the speaker's thought and demonstration.
“It is surely safe to assume,” said he, with emphasis, “that the thirty-nine framers of the original Constitution and the seventy-six members of the Congress
which framed the amendments thereto, taken together, do certainly include those who may be fairly called ‘our fathers who framed the government under which we live.’
And, so assuming, I defy any man to show that any one of them ever, in his whole life, declared that, in his understanding, any proper division of local from Federal authority, or any part of the Constitution
, forbade the Federal
government to control as to slavery in the Federal Territories
With equal skill he next dissected the complaints,