BECK index


In Congress and Out

by Sanderson Beck


ABRAHAM LINCOLN and MARY TODD LINCOLN are sitting in their room and talking.


February 1843

Well, Mr. Lincoln, I think
we are going to have a third member
of the family arrive this summer.

Is one of your sisters coming to visit?

In this little room?
You know we cannot entertain here.
No, I am going to have a baby.

Molly, that is wonderful!

After the baby is born,
could we move to a larger place?

Paying only $4 a week
for room and board here
is a good deal for us;
but I think we could probably
afford a small house by then.
I am still paying off my “national debt”
I got from those stores in New Salem.

If you would collect your fees
from delinquent clients,
I might have more spending money.

I shall see what I can do.
Working with my senior partner, Mr. Logan,
I am learning more about practicing law.
We are getting nearly as many cases
as we can handle.


STEPHEN LOGAN and ALBERT BLEDSOE are meeting with Lincoln.

Welcome, Mr. Bledsoe,
to the law office of Logan and Lincoln.

We hope you do not mind meeting here.

The Whigs meeting at Springfield
have appointed us to draw up resolutions
for the coming campaign that was delayed
by the new census and re-apportionment.

Then let us get to it.
Mr. Lincoln, what do you recommend?

I think the first resolution
should be in favor of the protective tariff
and the second opposed to direct taxation.

I agree.
I have found good quotations
defending tariffs from Thomas Jefferson,
Andrew Jackson, and John C. Calhoun.

We should point out that the Democrats
have been increasing the national debt
as if it were a time of war.

The tariff is cheaper to collect
because it is in large parcels
from a few commercial points
while taxing land requires
assessors and collectors
that are like swarms of Egyptian locusts.

Most of the foreign goods
are luxuries rather than necessities,
and so the tariff falls mostly on
those who can bear the burden.
Farmers and those who buy
home products go free.

What else?

A third resolution favors a National Bank,
and a fourth supports Mr. Clay’s land bill.
This would provide revenue for Illinois.

What about the Whig candidates?

We should recommend that a Whig candidate
run in every Congressional district
even if they have little chance of success
so that our friends have someone to vote for.
That builds the party over time.
The Whigs must adopt the convention system
for nominating candidates in order to
avoid factions and division within the party.
The Democrats adopted the convention system,
and we have been losing seats
even where we outnumber them
because more than one Whig runs.
In union is strength.

Your ideas are good, Mr. Lincoln.
Would you like to write the first draft?

I shall be happy to do so.


Lincoln and Mary are sitting and talking.

Mr. Lincoln, are you going to be running
for the United States Congress this year?

I want to, but the Whigs in this county
have voted to support Edward Baker.
Then they elected me one of the delegates
who is instructed to vote for him.
That is like being a groomsman
to the man who has cut me out.

But at least you will be at the convention.
When is it?

On May first.
I begin riding the judicial circuit on April fifth,
and I am usually gone for three months.

Are you going to leave me alone
for three months?!
Don’t most of the lawyers
go home on Sundays?

Those who stay close to home can do that,
but I ride the entire circuit
and am usually too far away from home.
I will try to come back for a while
after the convention in May.


Lincoln is conferring with JOHN HARDIN and EDWARD BAKER.

I am willing to withdraw
in favor of you, Mr. Hardin,
if you will agree not to run for re-election.

That is acceptable.

And I will propose that
the convention support you, Mr. Baker,
as the candidate in 1844
if you will also promise
not to run for re-election
so that I can have my turn in 1846.

Then we are in agreement that
I am to be the candidate in this election.


That is the deal.


Lincoln is cradling the baby in his arms while he talks with Mary.

So what is his name to be?

Mr. Lincoln, you know that
I want to name him after my father.

Yes, and I would like to call him Joshua
after my good friend Speed.
Mother, I realize that you have done
most of the work in producing him,
and since my contribution was rather small,
I think it is fitting that
you choose the name.

Then his name is Robert Todd Lincoln.


Lincoln, Mary, and the baby have moved to a larger house at the corner of South Fourth Street and Jackson Street.

I think the Reverend Dresser gave us
a good deal on his house.
I paid $1200 plus the lot on Adams Street
that is worth about $300.

Yes, this is a much nicer house,
and I hope we can expand it
for a growing family.

And my law office is nearby.

Now I will be able to entertain
your political friends.



June 12, 1844

Lincoln is addressing a meeting of Whigs.

Whereas there seems to be a determined effort
by the so-called Democratic party
to blame the late riots in Philadelphia
upon the Whigs and their supposed
hostility to foreigners and Catholics,
and whereas truth and justice to ourselves
demand that we repel that charge,
therefore it is resolved
that we oppose all attempts
to destroy the naturalization laws.
It is resolved that the guarantee
of the rights of conscience,
as found in our Constitution,
is most sacred and inviolable
and one that belongs no less to the Catholic
than to the Protestant,
and that all attempts to abridge
or interfere with these rights
have our decided disapprobation
and most effective opposition.
It is also resolved that
we condemn the Philadelphia riots
and the causes which led to them
which are in conflict with
the principles above expressed.



June 1845

WILLIAM HERNDON is opening his door and letting in Lincoln.

Mr. Lincoln, I am very glad to see you.
Please come in and sit down.

Lincoln takes a seat.

Thank you, Billy.

I hope your wife and family are well.

Yes, they are fine,
but I have become increasingly agitated
by my partnership with Mr. Logan.
He is taking in his son David as a partner.
I am determined to sever the partnership
and start my own law office,
and I would like you to come in with me
as my junior partner.

Mr. Lincoln, are you joking with me?

No, I am in earnest.
Billy, I can trust you
if you can trust me.

I expect to be admitted to the bar soon.
This is a dream come true for me.

Then we are agreed.
It may take a few months
to dissolve my partnership with Logan.
So it should work out well.

Thank you, Mr. Lincoln,
thank you very much!


Lincoln and Mary are talking in the living room.

Now that Hardin and Baker
have been to the Congress,
is Mr. Hardin going to run again?

Some want him to run for Governor,
but he knows that a Whig
won’t win that office in Illinois.
I think he wants to run for Congress again.

What about the deal you made at Pekin
that the three of you would take turns?

I have been writing to editors
and to Hardin himself.
I would be willing to give way to him
if neither of us had been to Congress,
or if we both had;
but Hardin and Baker have had their turn,
and now it is my turn.

I agree. Turnabout is fair play.

Hardin proposed that we agree
not to electioneer except in our own county.
That would give him a decided advantage.
He is well known in the district
because he has been in the Congress.
So I refused to agree.

Who is running for the Democrats?

The Methodist preacher Peter Cartwright,
who rides the religious circuit.

Will they try to discredit you again
because of your religious doubts?
Many people did not like
that temperance speech you gave.

Since then I have moderated my views,
and most people do not want
a religious man meddling in politics.



May 1, 1846

Lincoln, Herndon, and Logan are conferring.

After I wrote to him,
Hardin agreed to withdraw;
but he did not admit publicly
that we had made a bargain.

I have been made secretary of the convention.

Mr. Lincoln, if you will agree
not to run for re-election,
then I will move that
you be nominated by acclamation.

Since I have benefited from such pledges,
I will promise that I will not succeed myself
so that you too, Mr. Logan,
may have your turn in Washington.

The one district in Illinois that the Whigs win
seems to have a plethora of political talent.


Lincoln and Herndon are reading papers and talking.

President Polk has advised the Congress
that hostilities have begun in Mexico.
They have declared a state of war
was caused “by the act of Mexico.”
They have voted ten million dollars
and called for fifty thousand volunteers.

As a candidate for Congress,
what is your position on the war?

Based on the information in this newspaper,
I guess I will have to support it.
No one seems to be opposing the war,
and I have accepted an opportunity to speak
here in Springfield to help recruit volunteers.

How is your campaign going
against the preacher Cartwright?

His men spread reports that
Mary is a high-toned Episcopalian
and that I am a Deist.
I went to a religious meeting
where he was preaching.
Cartwright asked all those who
expect to go to heaven to stand,
and the self-righteous stood up.
Then he asked all those who
did not want to go to hell to stand,
and then everyone was standing but me.
So he asked me where I was going.

And what did you say?

I said that I believe in treating
religious matters with due solemnity;
but since he asked me directly
where I am going,
I said, “I am going to Congress.”



August 1847

Lincoln is reading a newspaper while Mary is sewing. The 4-year-old child ROBERT is playing on the floor, and a baby is in a crib.

Well, Mr. Lincoln, it has been a year
since you received more votes than anyone
ever has in this Congressional district.

After Baker resigned,
John Henry was elected to fill his seat,
but Henry has become very unpopular
for opposing the Mexican War.

When do you need to be in Washington
for the new session?

Not until December.
So I can ride the circuit in the fall.

If you are going to do that,
I am going to insist that
you take me to Washington with you.

And the babies?

I can take care of them
just as well there as I can here.

If we rent this house for a year,
I suppose that we can afford to do that.

Can we visit my relatives in Lexington
on the way there?

I think that could be arranged.
In Washington we can live
in Mrs. Sprigg’s boardinghouse,
where the late Mr. Hardin and
our little Edward Baker’s namesake stayed.

That was a tragic loss that
Mr. Hardin was killed in the war.

Yes, he was our best politician.


Lincoln is leaning back in a chair and is finishing a story he is telling his listeners.

…and so the wife, not sure who would win
and not wanting to take sides,
says, “Go it husband; go it bear!”

They laugh.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
That reminds me of another story—

DR. RUTHERFORD has been waiting patiently for the end of the story and interrupts Lincoln.

Mr. Lincoln, I am Dr. Rutherford.
I understand that you oppose slavery
and have helped some Negroes
to gain their freedom.
I am trying to help the free Negro,
Anthony Bryant,
to get his wife Jane and their children
liberated from the slave-owner Robert Matson.
I will pay you to represent them.

I would like to do so;
but seeing as I have already been consulted
by Mr. Linder on behalf of Mr. Matson,
I cannot go against my professional obligation
to them unless they release me.

That sounds like hypocrisy to me.

You are entitled to your opinion.



Charleston, Illinois
October 17

Lincoln is seated at a table with USHER LINDER and ROBERT MATSON while Dr. Rutherford, GIDEON ASHMORE, and ANTHONY BRYANT are together with their lawyers CHARLES CONSTABLE and ORLANDO FICKLIN. Lincoln explains to Linder.

After you released me,
I sent a message to Dr. Rutherford;
but he rejected my services.
So I will assist in your defense of Mr. Matson.

The judges WILLIAM WILSON and SAMUEL TREAT enter the courtroom, and the CLERK calls for order.

Hear ye, hear ye. Order in the court.


During the trial Linder is arguing before the judges.

The Constitution of the United States
protects the property of those
who own slaves and other chattels.


Slaves are free in Illinois
because of the Ordinance of 1787
and the state constitution.
In his great speech John Philpot Curran
spoke of the “irresistible genius
of universal emancipation.”


Mr. Constable has cited English cases
which do not apply because
our federal constitution has established
a rule more liberal to the owners of slaves.
This whole case turns on
whether these Negroes passing over
and crossing the state were in transit
or whether they actually located here
by consent of their master.
Thus it depends on the true purpose
and intent of Mr. Matson.
As he and Joseph Dean have testified,
Mr. Matson did not intend
to keep those Negroes in Illinois.
Mr. Matson declared publicly
that his settlement was not permanent.


Jane and her children are not like other slaves
that Mr. Matson brought to Illinois
to harvest crops each year.
They have been in Illinois
for more than two years.


The master would be entitled to
the return of his slaves only where
the slave had escaped
from one state to another;
but Mr. Matson brought Jane and her children
to Illinois voluntarily in 1845.
Therefore this court hereby grants
the habeas corpus petition
and orders these Negroes released from jail,
and they shall remain free
and discharged from all servitude
to any person henceforward and forever.


Lincoln throws his saddlebags on his horse and is saying goodbye to Linder.

Mr. Matson left the state of Illinois
in such a hurry that he did not
even stop to pay me my fee.
What is to happen to the freed Negroes?

Mr. Ashmore told me that
the American Colonization Society
has raised money to pay for their transportation
to New Orleans and from there to Liberia.

I am glad they are free.
Goodbye, Mr. Linder.


Lincoln gets on his horse and rides off.


Lincoln, Mary, and the children are getting settled in their room in Washington.

We had a good visit in Lexington.

Yes, it was wonderful to see my father
so that I could thank him for the money
he is contributing to help raise our children.

I was very impressed by the speech
Henry Clay made opposing the Mexican War.



United States House of Representatives
December 22, 1847

Lincoln is speaking in the Congress, reading from a paper.

In his message President Polk stated that
the Mexican Government involved
the two countries in war
by invading the territory of the state of Texas,
striking the first blow,
and shedding the blood of our citizens
on our own soil.
Whereas this House desires to obtain
a full knowledge of all the facts
which go to establish
whether the particular spot of soil
on which the blood of our citizens was so shed,
was, or was not, our own soil, at that time;
therefore be it resolved
by the House of Representatives,
that the President of the United States
be respectfully requested to inform this House—
First: Whether the spot of soil
on which the blood of our citizens was shed,
as in his messages declared, was, or was not,
within the territories of Spain,
at least from the treaty of 1819
until the Mexican revolution.
Second: Whether that spot is, or is not,
within the territory which was wrestled
from Spain by the Mexican revolution.
Third: Whether that spot is, or is not,
within a settlement of people,
which settlement had existed ever since
long before the Texas revolution
until its inhabitants fled
from the approach of the U.S. Army.
Fourth: Whether that settlement is, or is not,
isolated from any and all other settlements
by the Gulf of Mexico and the Rio Grande
on the south and west
and by wide uninhabited regions
on the north and east.
Fifth: Whether the people of that settlement,
or a majority of them, or any of them,
had ever previous to the bloodshed
mentioned in his messages
submitted themselves to the government
or laws of Texas or of the United States
by consent or by compulsion,
either by accepting office or voting at elections
or paying taxes or serving on juries
or having process served upon them
or in any other way.
Sixth: Whether the people of that settlement
did, or did not, flee
from the approach of the United States Army,
leaving unprotected their homes
and their growing crops
before the blood was shed,
as in his messages stated;
and whether the first blood so shed
was, or was not shed,
within the inclosure of the people
or some of them, who had thus fled from it.
Seventh: Whether our citizens,
whose blood was shed,
as in his messages declared,
were, or were not, at that time
armed officers and soldiers
sent into that settlement by the military order
of the President through the Secretary of War—
and Eighth: Whether the military force
of the United States, including those citizens,
was, or was not, so sent into that settlement
after General Taylor had more than once
intimated to the War Department
that in his opinion
no such movement was necessary
to the defense or protection of Texas.

Lincoln sits down.

These resolutions are laid over under the rule.



January 12, 1848

Lincoln is kissing Mary goodbye.

Wish me luck, mother.
Today is my big speech.

Do not be scared; you will do well.


Lincoln is speaking in the Congress.

Some gentlemen on the other side
have complained that a week ago
we passed a resolution stating that
the war with Mexico was unnecessarily
and unconstitutionally commenced
by the President.
When the war began,
it was my opinion that those
who could not conscientiously approve
should nevertheless as good citizens
and patriots remain silent on that point
until the war was ended.
However, the President has argued that
every silent vote for supplies
is an endorsement of his conduct.
Now resolutions have been brought
expressly endorsing the justice of the war,
and I shall be compelled to vote on these.
Seeing that I could not be silent,
I carefully examined the President’s messages
to ascertain if he has proven his justification.

In his first war message in May 1846
the President declared that
the soil was ours on which
hostilities were commenced by Mexico,
and he has repeated that declaration
in each successive message.
Now I propose to show that
this is the sheerest deception.
His statements presume that
the western boundary of Texas
is either the Nueces River or the Rio Grande,
but the boundary may be
somewhere between the two.
Both Texas and Mexico
have claimed this territory.
If I claim your land by a deed I wrote,
that would not make it mine.
The President stated that Santa Anna
in his “treaty” with Texas
recognized the Rio Grande
as the western boundary of Texas,
but how could Santa Anna,
while a captive, a prisoner of war,
bind Mexico by a treaty?
During its first ten years
that document was never called a treaty.
When the President and the Congress
admitted Texas into the Union,
they understood that the state of Texas
was to extend beyond the Nueces,
but that does not mean that
it extended clear to the Rio Grande.
If anyone should declare that
the President sent the army into the midst
of a settlement of Mexican people,
who had never submitted by consent or by force
to the authority of Texas or of the United States
and that there the first blood of the war was shed,
there is not one word in all the President has said
which would either admit
or deny the declaration.
If Texas was exercising jurisdiction
along the western bank of the Nueces,
and Mexico was exercising it
along the eastern bank of the Rio Grande,
then neither river was the boundary,
but the uninhabited country
between the two was.

The extent of our territory in that region
depended, not on any treaty-fixed boundary
but on revolution.
Any people anywhere,
being inclined and having the power,
have the right to rise up
and shake off the existing government
and form a new one that suits them better.
This is a sacred right
which we hope and believe
is to liberate the world.
Any portion of such people
can revolutionize and make their own
so much of the territory as they inhabit.
All Mexico, including Texas,
revolutionized against Spain,
and later Texas revolutionized against Mexico.
As to whether Texas had actually carried
her revolution to the place
where the hostilities commenced,
let the President answer
the interrogatories I proposed.
Let him answer with facts,
not with arguments.
If he can show that the soil was ours,
then I am with him.
But if he cannot or will not do this,
then I shall be fully convinced
that he is deeply conscious
of being in the wrong—
that he feels the blood of this war,
like the blood of Abel,
is crying to Heaven against him.

The war has gone on some twenty months
with considerable expenses.
The President now claims about one half
of the Mexican territory
which is comparatively uninhabited.
As to the mode of terminating the war
and securing peace,
the President is wandering and indefinite.
The President has said that
the continued success of our arms
may fail to secure a satisfactory peace.
Nowhere in his message
does the President intimate
when he expects the war to terminate.
He is a bewildered, confounded,
and miserably perplexed man.
God grant he may be able to show
there is not something about his conscience
more painful than all his mental perplexity!

Lincoln sits down.


Lincoln is reading a newspaper while Mary is sewing.

What has been the response in Illinois
to your resolutions and speech
challenging the President’s war justification?

The Whig papers have printed my speeches,
but the opposing newspapers are furious.
The war is still popular in Illinois,
and many Whigs are very upset with me.
Because of my spot resolutions,
some have taken to calling me “Spotty.”
Billy Herndon’s letter is warning me
that I have lost most of my support.

Are you going to do anything to help
my father’s hemp processing business?

I am planning to ask the House
to suspend the rules in order to
consider a joint resolution from the Senate
on contracts for the purchase
of hemp for the Navy,
but I doubt that it will pass.

I am sure that he will appreciate
any effort you can make.
I am looking forward to visiting
my family again in Kentucky.

I will miss you, mother.
I want to make speeches
in support of General Zachary Taylor
as the Whig nominee for President.



July 27

Lincoln is speaking in the Congress.

You Democrats and your candidate
in the main are in favor of laying down
in advance a platform—
a set of party positions as a unit
and then of enforcing the people
by every sort of appliance to ratify them,
however unpalatable some of them may be.
We Whigs and our candidate are in favor
of making Presidential elections
and the legislation of the country
distinct matters
so that the people
can elect whom they please
and afterwards legislate just as they please
without any hindrance,
save only so much as may guard against
infractions of the Constitution, undue haste,
and want of consideration.

The gentleman from Georgia says
we have deserted all our principles
and taken shelter under
General Taylor’s military coat-tail,
and he seems to think
this is exceedingly degrading.
Well, as his faith is, so be it for him.
But can he remember no other
military coat-tail under which
a certain other party have been sheltering
for near a quarter of a century?
Has he no acquaintance with the
amply military coat-tail of General Jackson?
Does he not know that his own party
has run the five last Presidential races
under that coat-tail?
And that they are now running the sixth
under the same cover?
Like a horde of hungry ticks
you have stuck to the tail
of the Hermitage lion to the end of his life;
and you are still sticking to it
and drawing a loathsome sustenance from it
after he is dead.

You Democrats are putting a military tail
on your candidate, General Cass.
He invaded Canada without resistance,
and he outvaded it without pursuit.
He was not at Hull’s surrender;
but he was close by picking huckleberries
with General Harrison,
and some say he broke his sword.
By the way, Mr. Speaker,
did you know I am a military hero?
Yes, sir; in the days of the Black Hawk War
I fought, bled, and came away.
I was not at Stillman’s defeat;
but I was about as near it
as Cass was to Hull’s surrender,
and like him I saw the place
very soon afterwards.
It is quite certain that
I did not break my sword,
for I had none to break;
but I bent a musket pretty badly
on one occasion.
If Cass broke his sword,
the idea is he broke it in desperation;
I bent the musket by accident.
If General Cass went in advance of me
in picking huckleberries,
I guess I surpassed him
in charges upon the wild onions.
If he saw any live, fighting Indians,
it was more than I did;
but I had a good many bloody struggles
with the mosquitoes;
although I never fainted from loss of blood,
I can truly say I was often very hungry.

As General Taylor is, par excellence,
the hero of the Mexican war,
and as you Democrats say
we Whigs have always opposed the war,
you think it must be very awkward
and embarrassing for us
to go for General Taylor.
If to say “the war was unnecessarily
and unconstitutionally
commenced by the President”
be opposing the war,
then the Whigs have generally opposed it.
The marching of an army into the midst
of a peaceful Mexican settlement,
frightening the inhabitants away,
leaving their growing crops
and other property to destruction,
to you may appear a perfectly amiable,
peaceful, unprovoking procedure;
but it does not appear so to us.
So to call such an act to us appears no other
than a naked, impudent absurdity.
But if, when the war had begun
and had become the cause of the country,
the giving of our money and our blood
in common with yours
was support of the war,
then it is not true that
we have always opposed the war.
But the distinction between
the cause of the President
in beginning the war
and the cause of the country
after it has begun,
is a distinction which you can not perceive.
We see the distinction clearly enough,
and our friends who have fought in the war
have no difficulty in seeing it also.
General Taylor has declared that
as a citizen and particularly as a soldier
it is sufficient for him to know that
his country is at war with a foreign nation,
to do all in his power to bring it
to a speedy and honorable termination
by the most vigorous and energetic operations
without inquiring about its justice
or anything else connected with it.
Mr. Speaker, let our Democratic friends
be comforted with the assurance
that we are content with our position,
content with our company,
and content with our candidate.

Lincoln sits down.


ALEXANDER STEPHENS, Lincoln, and others are working on preparing campaign literature for mailing to thousands of people.

Mr. Stephens, I am glad to join
the Young Indians in working for the election
of “Old Rough and Ready” for President.
Mr. Clay has no chance of winning,
and I believe that General Taylor
will be the next President.

With southern and northern Whigs
working together I am also confident
that he will win the White House.
Your humorous speeches on his behalf
have been well received.

I am thinking of visiting New England
in order to persuade the anti-slavery men
to stay with the Whigs
rather than join the Free Soil Party
that is nominating the Democrat Van Buren.
Their votes for him would only help
the Democratic candidate Cass
who would allow slavery into the territories.

These mailings also greatly help our cause.
Thanks for helping to send them out.

They look at a piece of campaign literature for Taylor.



Worcester, Massachusetts
September 12

Lincoln is speaking from a platform to an enthusiastic audience.

The people in Illinois agree
with the people of Massachusetts
that slavery is evil,
but we do not think about it so constantly.
We cannot affect it in the states
where we do not live,
but the extension of slavery to new territories
is under our control.
If General Cass is elected,
slavery would meet no check.
Because voting for Van Buren
will help Cass get elected,
I believe that the Whigs will do more
to stop the extension of slavery
than Free Soilers who vote for Van Buren.

Many in the audience applaud.



September 15

Lincoln is conversing with WILLIAM SEWARD.

Governor Seward, it was an honor to speak
on the same platform as you here in Boston.

Thank you.
I enjoyed your advocacy for General Taylor
and your satiric comments on General Cass.

I have been thinking about
what you said in your speech.
I reckon you are right.
We have got to deal with this slavery question
and got to give much more attention to it
hereafter than we have been doing.
I have voted for the Wilmot Proviso
every time it has been added to a bill
in order to keep slavery out of the territory
obtained from Mexico.


Lincoln is eating with other boarders who are also members of Congress. PATRICK TOMPKINS of Mississippi and JOSHUA GIDDINGS of Ohio are getting into a quarrel.

Most residents of Washington favor slavery
which is protected by our Constitution.

Slavery violates the laws of morals,
and of religion such as the golden rule
that we should do to others
what we would have them do to us.

That reminds me of a story …

Others at the table, who want to see the quarrel stopped, turn to Lincoln for relief. JAMES POLLOCK of Pennsylvania comments.

Leave it to Lincoln to interject a story
when we need one.


Lincoln is walking by the crowded Washington slave market on his way to the Capitol building. He sees Negroes in the miserable conditions of a livery stable waiting to be shipped south and a chained group that is being transported.



January 10, 1849

Lincoln is speaking in the Congress.

I ask Mr. Wentworth to withdraw his motion
so that I may read a proposition
I wish to submit.

I withdraw my motion for that purpose.

I thank my colleague for his courtesy.
I introduce the following substitute
for the resolution of Daniel Gott of New York:
That no person shall ever be held in slavery
within the District of Columbia
except that citizens of slaveholding states
coming into the District on public business
may be attended by their servants.
That all children born of slave mothers
within said District shall be
reasonably supported and educated
until they are of age
when they shall be entirely free.
That all persons now within said District
lawfully held as slaves,
once the owner receives
from the treasury of the United States
the full value of his or her slaves,
such slaves shall be forthwith and forever free.
That the municipal authorities
of Washington and Georgetown
are hereby empowered and required
to provide active and efficient means
to arrest and deliver up to their owners
all fugitive slaves escaping into said District.
That the election officers within said District
are hereby empowered and required
to open polls and hold elections
on the first Monday of April next
and receive the vote of every
free white male citizen
above the age of twenty-one years
who has lived in the District for one year
and to transmit the correct statements
of the votes so cast
to the President of the United States.
If a majority be found to be for this act,
he shall forthwith issue his proclamation
that this act shall be in full force after that day.
I am authorized to say that
of about fifteen leading citizens
of the District of Columbia
to whom this proposition was submitted,
all approved of its adoption.

Lincoln sits down.



July 1849

Lincoln and Mary have returned to their home. Robert and Edward are playing with Lincoln, who is on his hands and knees, giving them rides on his back.

It is good to be home, father.
What is the latest on the appointment
of the Land Office Commissioner?

I am still backing Cyrus Edwards,
but Dr. Henry believes he has little chance
against Justin Butterfield,
who has organized much support for himself.
Baker made things worse
by competing against Edwards,
who is now accusing me of bad faith.
Dr. Henry wants me to seek the position,
and he has persuaded President Taylor
to postpone his decision for three weeks.

Lincoln gets up and sits in a chair.

Do you want the job?

It is a good position.
I quickly sent out some letters
asking people to write me in Washington.
Now Butterfield has proposed that
neither of us go to Washington,
but I did not agree to that.

I am not going to Washington,
but I shall help you pack.

Thank you, mother.


Lincoln and Herndon are talking.

President Taylor yielded to Secretary Ewing
in appointing Butterfield as Land Commissioner.
Butterfield is qualified for the position;
but I believe he has less claim to the office
because he backed Clay
and opposed Taylor to the bitter end.
Now the President is trying to make amends
by appointing me to be the
secretary of the Oregon Territory.

Do you want that job?

No, I declined it.
I was recommending Simeon Francis.
J. H. Marshall of Indiana was appointed
Governor of Oregon, but he declined also.
By the way, in Washington I got a patent
for my flatboat with bellows on each side
to help float it off of shoals.

Did you give them the model you whittled?

LINCOLN (Proudly)
I did.


Lincoln and Mary are talking.

While I was out of town,
my friends did not send
the telegram I requested to Washington
declining the governorship of Oregon
because they believed that
I should take the position.

You and I already discussed that
and agreed that you should refuse it.

That is what is so frustrating.
I did not have access to a telegraph line,
and my letter took time to get to Washington.
So the press reported I would accept.
I have sent a telegram from here declining.
Herndon thinks that you caused me to refuse,
but I agree with you, mother.

You know Eddie’s health is weak.

Yes, and besides the Democrats
dominate the politics in Oregon,
and so there is little chance
I would be elected to the Senate from there.
Logan lost our only Whig district
because of my criticism of the Mexican War.
It looks like my political career is over.

For a while, but do not give up.
Changing times can change politics.

I am going back to practicing law with Billy.

I suppose that means you will be
riding the circuit again for half each year.

Yes, mother, I will be.
That is how I make a living for our family.

Are you still going to be
giving Herndon half your fees.
I never heard of a senior partner doing that.

He kept the business going
while I was in Washington.
He is a good partner for me
and is becoming a good lawyer.


Lincoln is reading in the living room. Mary comes in from upstairs and sits down in a dejected manner.

Little Eddie is very sick,
and I am afraid he is going to die too.

Lincoln puts down his book.

I know your father’s death last summer
was a major blow to you.

Today I learned that
my grandmother Parker died.

I am sorry to hear that.
After my mother died,
I was blessed to have a loving stepmother;
but your stepmother apparently
did not give you the love
that your grandmother did.

I am afraid that deaths come in threes
and that Little Eddie will die soon.

You are doing all you can by nursing him.
We must trust God and his providence.


Lincoln is laying on his back talking and reading aloud a newspaper while Herndon is trying to work.

Henry Clay has introduced
compromise resolutions.
Here is what he said:
“It being desirable for the peace,…




United States Senate
January 29, 1850

HENRY CLAY is speaking.

… concord, and harmony of the Union
of these states to settle
and adjust amicably all existing questions
of controversy between them
arising out of the institution of slavery
upon a fair, equitable and just basis: therefore,
1. Resolved, that California
with suitable boundaries ought
upon her application to be admitted
as one of the states of this Union
without the imposition by Congress
of any restriction in respect
to the exclusion or introduction of slavery
within those boundaries.
2. Resolved, that as slavery
does not exist by law,
and is not likely to be introduced into any
of the territory acquired by the United States
from the republic of Mexico,
it is inexpedient for Congress to provide by law
either for its introduction into or exclusion from
any part of the said territory;
and that appropriate territorial governments
ought to be established by Congress
in all of the said territory,
not assigned as the boundaries
of the proposed state of California
without the adoption of any restriction
or condition on the subject of slavery.



Lincoln is talking to Herndon.

Then he proposed borders for Texas,
and he pledges money to pay its debts.
He says it is inexpedient to abolish slavery
in the District of Columbia
without the consent of Maryland
and the people in the district
and without just compensation
for the owners of the slaves;
but he proposes that it is expedient
to prohibit the slave trade
in the District of Columbia.
He would provide for a fugitive slave law
as required by the Constitution.
Finally he acknowledges that
Congress has no power to obstruct the trade
in slaves between slave-holding states.

That is a comprehensive plan
with something for both sides.


Lincoln and his son Robert are eating at the dinner table. They can hear Mary crying in the bedroom.

Is Ma going to get over Eddie’s death?

I too find death a hard thing to accept.

Lincoln gets up and goes to her. He finds her laying in bed sobbing.

Eat, Mary, for we must live.

I have been talking with Pastor Smith
of the Presbyterian Church
who was so good at the funeral.
Would you go to his church with me?

You know I don’t like attending churches,
but I shall buy a family pew there.


Lincoln is reading from the newspaper to Herndon.

The Journal praises Clay’s speech
on his proposed compromise,
and they denounce the treason of the South.
When Senator Foote of Mississippi
taunted Clay for voting against the South,
Clay said, “Sir, I know no South,…



Henry Clay is speaking.

… no North, no East, no West
to which I owe any allegiance.
I owe allegiance to two sovereignties,
and only two:
one is to the sovereignty of this Union,
and the other is to the sovereignty
of the state of Kentucky.
But if the gentlemen suppose
they can exact from me an acknowledgement
of allegiance to any ideal or future
contemplated confederacy of the South,
I here declare that I owe no allegiance to it.



Hearing thunder, Lincoln stops reading.

Uh oh, I hear thunder.
Mrs. Lincoln will be desperate.

How you coddle that woman!

Lincoln puts on his coat and hat and goes out.


Lincoln is coming in the gate. As he nears the front door, frightened Mary comes outside to greet him. He puts his arm around her, and they go in the house.


Lincoln is reading from the newspaper to Herndon.

Listen to what Senator Jefferson Davis
of Mississippi said….




February 12

JEFFERSON DAVIS is speaking.

Northern politicians are using
the factious, disorganizing, revolutionary
spirit of the abolitionists
in their attempt to erect sectional parties.
Considering it, as I do,
the cold calculating purpose of those
who seek for sectional dominion,
I see nothing short of conquest on one side
or submission on the other.
The Southern people must not become
an inferior class, a degraded caste in the Union.
Shall we of the South, who have shared
equally with you all your toils,
all your dangers, all your adversities,
and who equally rejoice in your prosperity,
and your fame—
shall we be denied those benefits
guaranteed by our compact,
or gathered as the common fruits
of a common country?
If so, self-respect requires that
we should assert them;
and, as best we may, maintain
that which we could not surrender
without losing your respect as well as our own.


Lincoln is reading from the newspaper to Herndon.

Senator John C. Calhoun of South Carolina
was too aged and ill to read his speech,
and so it was read for him
by Senator Mason of Virginia.




March 4

Ailing JOHN C. CALHOUN watches as JAMES MURRAY MASON reads his speech.

I have, senators, believed from the first
that the agitation of the subject of slavery
would, if not prevented by some timely
and effective measure, end in disunion.
The prospect is that the two sections will stand
before the end of the decade
at twenty northern states to fourteen southern.
The South has been excluded
from the common territory belonging to
all the states as members of the federal Union.
The United States,
since they declared their independence,
have acquired 2,373,046 square miles
of territory, from which the North
will have excluded the South,
if she should succeed in monopolizing
the newly-acquired territories,
about three-fourths of the whole.
Will the South be forced to choose
between abolition and secession?
It is a great mistake to suppose that
disunion can be effected by a single blow.
The cords which bind these states together
in one common Union are far too numerous
and powerful for that.
Disunion must be the work of time.
It is only through a long process,
and successively, that the cords can be snapped
until the whole fabric falls asunder.
Can that be called a Union
when the only means by which
the weaker is held connected
with the stronger portion is force?
The only way to save the Union
is by adopting such measures
as will satisfy the states
belonging to the southern section.
The North has to do justice
by conceding to the South
an equal right in the acquired territory,
and by causing the stipulations relative to
fugitive slaves to be faithfully fulfilled,
and to cease agitation of the slave question.


Lincoln is reading from the newspaper to Herndon.

Senator Daniel Webster has made
a grand speech. Listen to this:



DANIEL WEBSTER is speaking to a Senate crowded with spectators.


March 7

Mr. President, I wish to speak today,
not as a Massachusetts man,
nor as a northern man, but as an American.
I speak today for the preservation of the Union.
Hear me for my cause.
One side says that slavery is a wrong,
that it is founded merely
in the right of the strongest,
and that is an oppression, like unjust wars,
like all those conflicts by which
a powerful nation subjects a weaker to its will.
The South on the other side,
having been accustomed to this relation
between two races all their lives,
having been taught to treat the subjects
of this bondage with care and kindness,
have not taken the view I have mentioned.
Every member of every northern legislature
is bound by oath to support
the Constitution of the United States,
and the article which says to these states that
they shall deliver up fugitives from service
is as binding in honor and conscience
as any other article.
There can be no such thing
as peaceable secession.
I see that disruption of the Union
must produce war.
I know that a southern confederacy
might be formed,
assigning the slave states to one side
and the free states to the other.
No, sir! There will be no secession!
Gentlemen are not serious
when they talk of secession.
Instead of speaking of secession,
let us enjoy the fresh air of liberty and Union.
We have a great, popular,
constitutional government,
guarded by law and by judicature,
and defended by the affections
of the whole people.


Lincoln is reading from the newspaper to Herndon.

My friend Henry Seward has given
an anti-slavery speech in the Senate.
He said—




March 11

Seward is reading his speech from a manuscript.

California ought to be admitted as a free state,
but it is insisted that its admission
shall be attended by a compromise
of questions which have arisen out of slavery.
I am opposed to any such compromise.
I think all legislative compromises
are essentially vicious
because they relinquish the right to reconsider
present decisions in the future.
What am I to give up for freedom in California?
Perpetual slavery in the District of Columbia,
more stringent laws for arresting persons
suspected of being slaves in free states,
and forbearance from the proviso
of freedom in the new territories.
All mankind esteems hospitality a virtue,
and the right of extradition of a fugitive
rests in voluntary compacts.
We are not slaveholders.
We cannot be either true Christians or free men
if we impose on another a chain
that we defy all human power
to fasten on ourselves.
The right to enslave would resolve society
into a state of perpetual war.
Slavery is only a temporary, accidental, partial,
and incongruous institution,
but freedom is a perpetual, organic,
and universal one.
The Constitution devotes the domain to union,
to justice, to defense, to welfare, and to liberty.
But there is a higher law than the Constitution
which regulates our authority over the domain
to the same noble purposes.
Our forefathers found slavery existing here,
and they left it only because
they could not remove it.
Our revolutionary predecessors excluded slavery
from the new states of Ohio,
Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
Britain, France, and Mexico
have abolished slavery,
and all other European states are preparing
to abolish it as speedily as they can.
Slavery is incompatible with natural rights,
the diffusion of knowledge,
and the freedom of industry;
it subverts democracy, converting the state
into an aristocracy or a despotism.
I cannot consent to introduce slavery
into any part of this continent
which is now exempt from what
seems to me so great an evil.
A moral question has arisen that transcends
the too narrow creeds of parties.
There can be no peaceful dissolution of the union.
Can you propagate slavery by the sword?
Will war for slavery moderate the discussion?
The conflict between truth and error,
between mind and physical force
will go on until it yields
to the progress of emancipation.


Lincoln is giving a lecture on law to a small audience.

I would avoid litigation if you can.
Persuade your neighbors to compromise
by pointing out to them how
the nominal winner is often a real loser—
in fees, expenses, and waste of time.
A lawyer who is a peacemaker has
a superior opportunity of being a good man.
There will still be business enough.
Never stir up litigation.
A worse man can scarcely be found
than one who does this.
Who can be more nearly a fiend than he
who habitually overhauls the register of deeds
in search of defects in titles
in order to stir up strife
and put money in his pocket?
A moral tone ought to be
infused into the profession
which should drive such men out of it.
Resolve to be honest;
and if in your own judgment
you cannot be an honest lawyer,
resolve to be honest without being a lawyer.
Choose some other occupation,
rather than one in the choosing of which
you do in advance consent to be a knave.


JUDGE DAVID DAVIS has just decided a case that Lincoln has argued with WARD HILL LAMON for their client SCOTT.

This court grants Mr. Lincoln’s motion
and recognizes that Mr. Scott
is the legal guardian of his aging sister.
This case is dismissed.

Judge Davis remains in the courtroom. Lamon goes up to Scott who pays him $250.

Thank you, Mr. Lamon, here is your fee.

Lincoln turns to Lamon.

What did you charge that man?

We agreed on $250.

Lamon, that is all wrong.
The service is not worth that sum.
Give him back at least half of it.

The fee was fixed in advance,
and he was happy to pay me.

That may be, but I am not satisfied.
This is positively wrong.
Go, call him back
and return half the money at least,
or I will not receive one cent of it
as my share.

Lamon walks quickly to catch Scott as he is leaving and gives him some money. Scott is astonished, but Judge Davis and the lawyers are upset with Lincoln. Davis motions to Lincoln to approach the bench.

Lincoln, come here.
I have been watching you and Lamon.
You are impoverishing this bar
by your picayune charges of fees,
and the lawyers have reason
to complain of you.
You are now almost as poor as Lazarus,
and if you don’t make people
pay you more for your services,
you will die as poor as Job’s turkey.

The prosecutor O. L. DAVIS agrees with the judge.

That is right, Lincoln.
It hurts us all.

That money comes out of the pocket
of a poor, demented girl,
and I would rather starve
than swindle her in this manner.


Judge Davis is trying Lincoln before the “orgmathorial court” while two other lawyers watch and agree.

Mr. Lincoln, I find you guilty of
pauperizing this court.
You are ruining your fellows,
and unless you quit this ridiculous policy,
we shall all have to go to farming.

That is the word to scare me.
Farming is about the last thing
I would want to do.
Yet I will not join lawyers in their practice
of “catch ‘em and cheat ‘em.”


Early in the morning before dawn while the others are sleeping, Lincoln is sitting before the stove staring into the fire in one of his gloomy moods.


While Herndon listens, Lincoln is talking with a prospective LITIGANT.

Yes, I can gain your case for you.
I can set a whole neighborhood
at loggerheads;
I can distress a widowed mother
and her six fatherless children
and thereby get for you six hundred dollars,
which rightfully belongs, as it appears to me,
as much to them as it does to you.
I shall not take your case,
but I will give a little advice for nothing.
You seem a sprightly, energetic man.
I would advise you to try your hand at making
six hundred dollars in some other way.

Well, if you do not want
the fee that you could get,…

No, sir; I do not. Good day.

The litigant leaves.



July 1852

Lincoln and Herndon are talking while they work.

I find it hard to accept that
the great Henry Clay has died.
He was the political architect
of the Missouri Compromise in 1820
and the Great Compromise of 1850
that both major parties have now endorsed.

Your eulogy of him was tremendous.

The Whigs have nominated a war hero again.

Winfield Scott is more heroic
than the Democrat Franklin Pierce,
but Pierce has legislative experience.

The Whig leaders have agreed that
the Fugitive Slave Law must be accepted
as part of the 1850 Compromise.
If you were to introduce the resolution,
it would help to bring along
your abolitionist friends.

I hate that law;
but if you think it is a good idea,
I will do it.

I am going to speak at the Scott Club
on behalf of our candidate.
I want to answer the charges
that Douglas has made
that Seward and the Abolitionists
are controlling Scott and the Whig party.



September 1854

Lincoln and Mary are talking.

I am glad that you ran
for the Illinois House again.
I knew you would win.

I am thinking of resigning my seat.

Why? You just got elected.

I believe the members may
elect me to the Senate.
The Illinois constitution disqualifies
members of the legislature
from being elected to the United States Senate.

By all means you should try for the Senate.
Is the Democrat Shields running for re-election?

Yes, he is.

What about your coming debate with Douglas?

His Kansas-Nebraska Act has repealed
the Missouri Compromise.
This is what brought me back into politics,
and I must do all I can to oppose that now.



October 16

Douglas is sitting on a bench nearby while Lincoln makes his speech to the audience.

My subject is
the repeal of the Missouri Compromise
and the propriety of its restoration.
I do not propose to question the patriotism
of any man or class of men.
I wish to make and to keep a distinction
between the existing institution of slavery
and its extension.
To understand the Missouri Compromise
let us look at its history.
Mr. Jefferson,
who wrote the Declaration of Independence
and was twice President,
is our most distinguished politician.
Though a slave-holder,
he persuaded the Virginia legislature to prohibit
slavery in the northwest territory in 1787,
and from this came the free states of Ohio,
Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
In 1803 we purchased from France territory
that became the states of Louisiana,
Arkansas, Missouri, and Iowa,
also the territory of Minnesota
and the present bone of contention,
Kansas and Nebraska.
When Missouri wanted to come in
as a slave state, Congress was divided.
A compromise was reached in 1820
to admit it with slavery,
but slavery was not permitted
in the remaining territory
north of 36 degrees 30 minutes.
Later Arkansas, which is south of the line,
became a slave state,
and Iowa became a free state.
In 1849 Senator Douglas admitted that
the Missouri Compromise has been approved
for a quarter century,
and its champion Henry Clay
has been called the “Great Pacificator.”
When President Polk was negotiating
a treaty with Mexico to end the war,
David Wilmot added an amendment
which stated, “Provided that in any territory
thus acquired there shall never be slavery.”
I voted for that Proviso many times.
In the 1848 peace treaty with Mexico
we acquired the territories of
New Mexico, Utah, and California,
and the Wilmot Proviso was defeated.
Judge Douglas proposed a bill
to extend the Missouri line,
but it was voted down.
California prohibited slavery,
but the Senate would not let her in as a state
until the Compromise of 1850 was reached.
The remaining Nebraska territory is about
one third as large as the present United States.
In January 1854 Judge Douglas introduced
a bill to give Nebraska territorial government,
and a month later an amendment made
the Missouri Compromise inoperative and void
because it allowed people to go to Nebraska
and establish slavery or exclude it.

I think letting slavery into
Kansas and Nebraska is wrong.
I hate it because of
the monstrous injustice of slavery itself.
It deprives our republican example
of its just influence in the world,
enabling the enemies of free institutions
to taunt us with hypocrisy.
It causes real friends of freedom
to doubt our sincerity,
and it forces our good men into an open war
with the fundamental principles of civil liberty
by insisting there is no right principle
of action but self-interest.
If all earthly power were given to me,
my first impulse would be
to free all the slaves
and send them to Liberia;
but this is impractical.
Could we free them and make them
politically and socially our equals?
The feelings of the great mass of white people
will not admit this.
I acknowledge the constitutional right
for laws to reclaim fugitives.
But in my opinion all this does not excuse
permitting slavery into our own free territory.
The public never repudiated
the Missouri Compromise.

The argument that slavery will not
go into Kansas and Nebraska
is a palliation, a lullaby.
As to climate,
more than a quarter of all the slaves
are above the Missouri line
in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia,
Kentucky, and Missouri.
Northwestern Missouri has more slaves
in proportion to whites
than any other part of Missouri.
What is to prevent those people
from taking slaves into the nearby territory
while the yankees,
who oppose slavery, are far away.
Wherever slavery is,
it was first introduced without law.
Many slaves were brought into Missouri
because it was allowed.
The South says that equal justice requires us
to consent to the extending of slavery
to new territories.
If you do not object to
my taking my hogs into Nebraska,
then I must not object to
you taking your slaves.
This is logical if there is no difference
between hogs and Negroes.
In 1820 you agreed to declare
the African slave trade piracy
deserving of death.
Why did you do this
if you did not feel it was wrong?
In the United States and its territories
there are 433,643 free blacks.
At five hundred dollars a head they are worth
more than two hundred million dollars.
How comes this vast amount of property
to be running about without owners?

The great argument for repealing
the Missouri Compromise is
“the sacred right of self-government.”
I take that bull by the horns.
The doctrine of self-government
is absolutely and eternally right,
but it has no just application here
unless one believes that
a Negro is not a man.
If a Negro is a man,
does it not destroy self-government
to say that he shall not govern himself?
I say that no man is good enough
to govern another man without his consent.
The relation of masters and slaves
is a total violation of this principle.
If each state should be allowed to regulate
its domestic concerns in its own way,
then should this not include deciding whether
slaves should be carried into its territories?
If this is left to the people in Nebraska,
then will each individual decide
whether he is to have slaves?
If they are allowed to take and hold slaves,
should they also have the right to buy them
where they are cheapest—in Africa?
African slave-traders do not capture freemen,
but they buy them from black captors.
A few may get slavery in,
but it is not easy to get it out.
Slave states are places for poor white people
to move from not to move to.
Because five slaves count as three men,
the voters in slave states have twice
the number of representatives
as the voters in other states.
This measure will not save the Union
but rather it will cause
more agitation in this territory.

Slavery is founded
in the selfishness of man’s nature
and is opposite to the love of justice.
You can repeal the compromises,
but you cannot repeal human nature.
When or how are the people in Nebraska
to decide the slavery question?
Yankees are sending emigrants to Nebraska,
but many more will go from Missouri,
which is next to the contested ground.
Is it not likely that the contest
will come to blows and bloodshed?
Will this not be the death-knell of the Union?
If we discard the spirit of compromise,
who will ever trust in a national compromise?
Already a few in the North
are resisting the fugitive slave law
and would abolish slavery,
while a few in the South
demand the revival of the slave trade.
By restoring the compromise
we restore the national faith,
confidence, and the feeling of brotherhood.
In 1794 the Congress prohibited
an out-going slave trade.
In 1798 they prohibited bringing slaves
from Africa into the Mississippi Territory.
They prohibited the African slave trade
on the first day of 1808, the very first day
the Constitution would permit.
Slavery has been tolerated only by necessity.
But now it is to be transformed
into a “sacred right.”
Is there no danger to liberty itself
in discarding the earlier principle
that all men are created equal?
Let us readopt the Declaration of Independence
and the practices and policy
which harmonize with it.
Let all Americans from north and south,
lovers of liberty everywhere,
join in the great and good work
of saving the Union
and keeping it worthy of the saving.



Illinois Statehouse
February 8, 1855

Lincoln and Mary are sitting in the gallery watching the joint Assembly of the House and Senate as they vote for U.S. Senator.

All the members of the House and Senate
vote to elect the United States Senator.
The winner must have a majority,
which is fifty-one votes.
The Democrat Shields as the incumbent
has the best chance at the start.

Members Stephen Logan and Joseph Gillespie confer with Lincoln.

On the first ballot you got 45 votes
to 41 for Shields,
but the five anti-Nebraska Democrats voted
for Trumbull rather than for a Whig.
If they had voted for you,
you would have won.

I will stay in the race to see if they will
come over to me on future ballots.


Logan and Gillespie confer with Lincoln again.

The Douglas Democrats have all
gone over to Governor Matteson,
and on the ninth ballot he got 47 votes.
Your count is down to fifteen men.
The others have gone over to Trumbull,
who got 35 votes this time.

You ought to drop me and go for Trumbull.
That is the only way you can defeat Matteson.

Those fifteen will stay with Lincoln,
and I insist that he stay in the running.

If you do that,
you will lose both Trumbull and myself.
I think the cause in this case
is to be preferred to men.
Logan, I want you to tell the fifteen
to vote for Trumbull.

Logan nods and returns to the floor with Gillespie while Lincoln explains to Mary.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
I would rather see Trumbull in the Senate
because he opposes the Nebraska Act.

But he started out with only five votes.
They should have gone over to you.

The Democrats are determined
not to vote for a Whig.
I am glad that we defeated Shields,
and we will get a solid anti-Nebraska man.


In the lobby Lincoln shakes hands with LYMAN TRUMBULL, but Mary is upset and is cool to his wife JULIA JANE TRUMBULL, who is an old friend of hers.

Congratulations, Mr. Trumbull.

It is nice to see you again, Mary.

It’s time to go home, Mr. Lincoln.

Mary turns away from Julia, takes Lincoln’s arm, and walks away with him.

MARY (Cont’d.)
I shall never talk to that woman again.



May 29, 1856

In this state convention of anti-Nebraska delegates from various political parties about two thousand people have gathered. Most of them are chanting “Lincoln! Lincoln! Lincoln!” and some are calling for him to “Take the platform.” Lincoln’s speech is often interrupted by applause.

Some of our anti-Nebraska friends
elected me as a delegate for Sangamon.
I sympathize with this movement
and approve of the platform.
We are in a trying time,
and unless a change is made,
blood will flow on account of Nebraska,
and brother’s hand will be
raised against brother!
I was deeply moved by the accounts
that have been given of the wrongs done
to free-state men in Lawrence, Kansas;
but we must not promise what we ought not
lest we be called on to perform what we cannot.
We are here to stand firmly for a principle.
We have come together against the extension
of slavery into territory now free.
We are assembled to protest
against a great wrong
and to take what measures we can
to make that wrong right
by restoring the Missouri Compromise.
We affirm the principles
of the Declaration of Independence.
We are united and agreed that
slavery must be kept out of Kansas!

The Nebraska law is a legislative usurpation
to make slavery national.
Almost the entire North is opposed
to planting slavery in free territory.
Yet it is a felony in Kansas now
to deny that slavery exists there.
The party lash was applied
to pass the Nebraska bill.
A law book makes a slave
not a person but a thing.
If the safeguards of freedom are broken down,
how long think you before they will begin
to make things of poor white men?
Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder,
trembled for his country
when he remembered that God is just.
It is historically true that
the government was made by white men,
but the cornerstone of government is
that “all men are created equal,”
and all are entitled to
“life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Slavery can only be maintained
by force—by violence.
Public sentiment,
shown by the elections of 1854,
demanded the restoration of the Compromise.
Now violence is being used
to force slavery on to Kansas,
for it cannot be done in any other way.
The result was to establish the rule of violence—
force instead of the rule of law and reason
to spread slavery in the territory.
In Washington Senator Sumner was beaten
and is now slowly dying.
At the same time Lawrence was being destroyed
for the crime of freedom.
If the border ruffians make Kansas a slave state,
and the free-state men come trailing back
to the North like whipped dogs,
will this still be the “land of the free?”
If we let it go so,
we won’t dare say it is “home of the brave.”
The Somerset case decided that
slavery is not natural law.
Will someone tell me what positive law
establishes slavery in Kansas?

The bogus laws.

Aye, the bogus laws.
A gang of Missouri horse-thieves
could ride into Illinois
and declare horse-stealing to be legal,
and it would be just as legal
as slavery is in Kansas.
If one party grossly violates a contract,
the other party may rescind it.
I go for rescinding
the entire Missouri Compromise
and thus turn Missouri into a free state.
What is the difference between
our making a free state of Missouri
and their making a slave state of Kansas?
We allow slavery in the slave states,
not because slavery is right or good,
but from the necessities of our Union,
and we gave them a reasonable and efficient
fugitive slave law as part of the bargain
that excluded slavery from what is now Kansas.

We will make converts day by day
and will be in a majority after a while.
Slavery is a violation of
the eternal right of freedom.
As sure as God reigns
and school children read,
that black foul lie can never be
consecrated into God’s hallowed truth!
Let us harmonize, my friends, and appeal
to the awakened public conscience.
We may sooner or later be compelled
to meet force by force;
but the time has not yet come,
and if we are true to ourselves,
it may never come.
The ballot is stronger than the bullet,
and by that peaceful policy
I believe we shall ultimately win.
Slave property is worth a billion dollars
while free-state men must work
for sentiment alone.
The essence of squatter or popular sovereignty
is that if one man chooses
to make a slave of another,
no third man shall be allowed to object.
If this is allowed to stand in Kansas,
the next thing you will see is
shiploads of Negroes from Africa
at a Charleston wharf.
We cannot be free men
if this is to be a land of slavery.
Those who deny freedom to others,
deserve it not for themselves
and, under the rule of a just God,
cannot long retain it.
The conclusion of all is that
we must restore the Missouri Compromise.
We must highly resolve that
Kansas must be free!
All this talk about dissolving the Union is folly.
We do not want to dissolve the Union,
and you shall not.
There is both power
and magic in public opinion.
To that let us now appeal;
and while in all probability
no resort to force will be needed,
our moderation and forbearance will stand us
in good stead when, if ever,
we must make an appeal
to battle and to the God of Hosts.

The applause and cheering is very loud, and Lincoln is mobbed as he leaves the platform.


Lincoln and Herndon are talking.

Your rousing speech at Bloomington
was such a great success that
Republicans in their first national convention
at Philadelphia gave you
one hundred and ten votes in the first ballot
for the Vice Presidential nomination.

I was in court at Urbana when I got the news.
I said they must have meant
the Lincoln from Massachusetts.
I guess they wanted an old Whig
to balance the ticket
with the rash John C. Fremont.
My choice was to nominate
the United States Supreme Court judge
John McLean because he would
bring in most of the Whigs.

Senator William Dayton of New Jersey
is an old line Whig too,
and he was nominated
as the Vice President candidate
on the formal ballot with 259 votes,
nearly by acclamation,
but you got fourteen votes from New York,
four from Connecticut,
and two from Pennsylvania.
This makes you a national figure.

Who promoted my nomination?

The Whig leader in the Illinois House,
Colonel William Archer.
He got John Allison of Pennsylvania
to present your name to the convention.
Archer only started working for you
after Fremont defeated McLean.
He believes that if he had started sooner
that you would have gained
the nomination for Vice President.

I actually prefer Millard Fillmore to Fremont;
but I will campaign for the Republican ticket
in central and southern Illinois
because Fillmore has no chance
to beat the Democrats’ James Buchanan.

Fillmore is the candidate
of the Know-Nothing party.
Have you read their platform?

Yes, they call themselves the American Party,
and their southern members forced them
to endorse the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
That is the biggest issue in this election.

Besides their hatred of foreigners is offensive.

I share your view
and have never liked that party.
I once asked an Irishman
why he was not born in this country,
and he said that he wanted
to be born in the United States,
but his mother wouldn’t let him.

They laugh.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
Yet I thought Fillmore was a good President.

Fillmore is arguing that the Republican party
only appeals to northerners
and that if it wins as a sectional party,
the southern states would secede.

I do not agree with that.
More than once we have had
a President and Vice President from the South.

Requests have come in from Indiana,
Wisconsin, and Iowa for you to speak.

Outside speakers usually lose elections;
but if the Democrats call in
a foreign champion,
I would have no objection
to driving a nail in his track.

The end of Part 2

Copyright © 2008 by Sanderson Beck

Learning Politics and Law
In Congress and Out
Debating Douglas
Becoming President
Civil War Begins
Proclaiming Emancipation
War by Conscription
Getting Re-elected
Victory and Death

How Lincoln Could Have Prevented Civil War
Lincoln Bibliography
Lincoln Chronology

BECK index