Lincoln, 1854-1861: Being the Day-By-Day Activities of Abraham Lincoln from January 1, 1854 to March 4, 1861

Lincoln, 1854-1861: Being the Day-By-Day Activities of Abraham Lincoln from January 1, 1854 to March 4, 1861

Lincoln, 1854-1861: Being the Day-By-Day Activities of Abraham Lincoln from January 1, 1854 to March 4, 1861

Lincoln, 1854-1861: Being the Day-By-Day Activities of Abraham Lincoln from January 1, 1854 to March 4, 1861

Excerpt

As the year 1854 opened, Stephen A. Douglas, chairman of the Committee on Territories of the United States Senate, was perfecting a report on a bill to organize the Territory of Nebraska. Able, popular, the leader of his party in Illinois and enough of a national figure to have been a presidential aspirant two years earlier, Douglas occupied an enviable position, but the fame he enjoyed on January 1, 1854, was as nothing in comparison with the public attention he drew to himself as the weeks wore on and the Kansas-Nebraska Bill moved forward to its passage. Throughout the spring of that year he was probably the most prominent man in the United States.

In Springfield, Illinois, Abraham Lincoln was preparing for another uneventful year in the practice of the law. Politics played a small part in his life. After one term in Congress he had returned to Illinois in disillusionment, determined to devote himself to his profession. In that he was advancing, though slowly. Six months of every year he traveled over the Eighth Judicial Circuit, attending to the mine-run of law suits with a degree of competence that had given him some reputation, while in the higher courts his practice had become substantial. In the more important political campaigns he still took part, but so far as making a serious business of politics was concerned, he had long ago decided in favor of the law.

Seven years pass. The undistinguished lawyer of 1854 has become the President-Elect of the United States, soon to be given the responsibility of guiding the country through its most serious crisis. Douglas is still a great figure, a leader whose word is law to millions of followers, but in the national scene Lincoln holds the central place.

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