Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1858 - Vol. 1

By Albert J. Beveridge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III
NEW SALEM: EARLY MANHOOD AND DEVELOPMENT

One of the people! born to be
Their curious epitome. STODDARD.

I desire to live, and I desire place and distinction as a politician. LINCOLN.

IN the little semi-circular chamber where met the Senate of the United States,1 every seat was filled and the small gallery was crowded. At his place stood a man little above medium height but broad-shouldered and compactly built, with remarkably large, dark eyes and cliff-like brow. He was dressed with careful regard to fashion, claw-hammer coat of blue broadcloth, the breast adorned by large polished brass buttons, a figured waistcoat and buff trousers. A high stock was around his neck and frills of a fine linen shirt protruded from his bosom. He was closing one of the greatest of speeches.

About him sat a company of men, historic in their eminence. One of these Senators, a young man of thirty-eight, with wide, intelligent gray eyes almost spiritual in appearance, and a face of striking manly beauty, leaned slightly forward in his chair. The composure of even Robert Y. Hayne of South Carolina was disturbed.

brks="brks">'Sir,' said Daniel Webster, his voice deep and compelling as the tones of a golden bell, 'Sir, I have not allowed myself to look beyond the Union, to see what might lie hidden in the dark recess behind. . . . While the Union lasts, we have high . . . prospects spread out before us, for us and our children. Beyond that I seek not to penetrate the veil. God grant that in my day, at least, that curtain may not rise! . . . When my eyes shall be turned to behold for the last time the sun in heaven, may I not see him shining on the broken and dishonored fragments of a once glorious Union; on States dissevered, discordant, belligerent; on a land rent with civil feuds, or drenched, it may be, in fraternal blood! Let their last feeble and lingering glance rather behold the gorgeous ensign of the republic, now known and

____________________
1
The room where the Supreme Court now sits.

-100-

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