Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1858 - Vol. 1

By Albert J. Beveridge | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VIII
NATIONAL POLITICS AND COLLAPSE

Opposition to the slave-power . . . is now for the first time the leading principle of a broad, resolute, and national organization. . . . We found now a new party. Its cornerstone is freedom, its broad, all-sustaining arches are truth, justice, and humanity. SUMNER in Free Soil Ratification Meeting in Faneuil Hall, Aug. 22, 1848.

The first and indispensable step . . . is to be united among yourselves on this great and most vital question. . . . The North will not believe that you are in earnest in opposition to your encroachments, and they will continue to follow, one after another, until the work of abolition is finished. CALHOUN, Address of the Southern Delegates in Congress, Jan., 1849.

I am in favor of leaving the people of any territory which may be hereafter acquired the right to regulate it [slavery] themselves, under the general principles of the Constitution. LINCOLN, in Congress, July 27, 1848.

WHILE gloomy letters from Herndon were arriving by wellnigh every mail and confirmation of his partner's forebodings were beginning to appear in Illinois newspapers, a tragic incident in the House took Lincoln's mind, for a brief moment, from the thought of politics. Lucien B. Chase of Tennessee offered resolutions of thanks to various general officers, among them G. J. Pillow, Franklin Pierce, and James Shields, for their gallant services in the war. The Whigs objected and fifty-four of them, including Lincoln, Toombs, and John Quincy Adams, voted against suspending the rules so that the resolution could be considered.1 After some bickering the main question was ordered, most Whigs voting against it.2 John Quincy Adams was the first to answer to the call of his name. 'Nay,' he replied, in an 'uncommonly emphatic tone of voice.'3 It was the last vote he ever cast.

brks="brks">Soon after the roll-call, the venerable statesman sank from his seat to the floor, fatally stricken. The House hastily adjourned and the dying man was carried to the rotunda for air and then to the Speaker's room, alarmed and grieving members gathering

____________________
1
The rules were suspended by one hundred and ten ayes to fifty-four nays. Cong. Globe, 30th Cong. 1st Sess., XVIII, 300-1, Feb. 21, 1848.
2
The vote was ninety-eight ayes to eighty-six nays, Lincoln, Stephens, and Toombs voting nay. Ib., 381.
3
Life of John Quincy Adams: W. H. Seward, 333.

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