Abbildungen der Seite

During the Revolution our fathers to justify their rebellion dug down to the bed-rock of human rights and planted their standard there. They declared that all men were entitled to liberty and that government derived its power from the consent of the governed. But when victory came, the great principles were forgotten and chains were put upon the limbs of men. Both of the great political parties were controlled by greed and selfishness. Both were the defenders and protectors of slavery. For nearly three-quarters of a century these parties had control of the Republic. The principal object of both parties was the protection of the infamous institution. Both were eager to secure the Southern vote and both sacrificed principle and honor upon the altar of success.

At last the Whig party died and the Republican was born. This party was opposed to the further extension of slavery. The Democratic party of the South wished to make the “divine institution" national-while the Democrats of the North wanted the question decided by each territory for itself.

Each of these parties had conservatives and extremists. The extremists of the Democratic party were in the rear and wished to go back; the extremists of the Republican party were in the front, and wished to go forward. The ex

treme Democrat was willing to destroy the Union for the sake of slavery, and the extreme Republican was willing to destroy the Union for the sake of liberty.

Neither party could succeed without the votes of its extremists.

This was the condition in 1858–60.

When Lincoln was a child his parents removed from Kentucky to Indiana. A few trees were felled-a log hut open to the south, no floor, no window, was built-a little land plowed and here the Lincolns lived. Here the patient, thoughtful, silent, loving mother died -died in the wide forest as a leaf dies, leaving nothing to her son but the memory of her love.

In a few years the family moved to Illinois. Lincoln then almost grown, clad in skins, with no woven stitch upon his body-walking and driving the cattle. Another farm was opened -a few acres subdued and enough raised to keep the wolf from the door. Lincoln quit the farm-went down the Ohio and Mississippi as a hand on a flat-boat-afterward clerked in a country store—then in partnership with another bought the store—failed. Nothing left but a few debts-learned the art of surveying-made about half a living and paid something on the debts-read law-admitted to the bar-tried a few small cases-nomi

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

nated for the Legislature and made a speech.

This speech was in favor of a tariff, not only for revenue, but to encourage American manufacturers and to protect American workingmen. Lincoln knew then as well as we do now, that everything, to the limits of the possible, that Americans use should be produced by the energy, skill and ingenuity of Americans. He knew that the more industries we had, the greater variety of things we made, the greater would be the development of the American brain. And he knew that great men and great women are the best things that a nation can produce,—the finest crop a country can possibly raise.

He knew that a nation that sells raw material will grow ignorant and poor, while the people who manufacture will grow intelligent and rich. To dig, to chop, to plow, requires more muscle than mind, more strength than thought.

To invent, to manufacture, to take advantage of the forces of nature—this requires thought, talent, genius. This develops the brain and gives wings to the imagination.

It is better for Americans to purchase from Americans, even if the things purchased cost


If we purchase a ton of steel rails from England for twenty dollars, then we have the rails

and England the money. But if we buy a ton of steel rails from an American for twenty-five dollars, then America has both the rails and the money.

Judging from the present universal depression and the recent elections, Lincoln, in his first speech, stood on solid rock and was absolutely right. Lincoln was educated in the University of Nature-educated by cloud and star -by field and winding stream-by billowed plains and solemn forests—by morning's birth and death of day-by storm and night-by the ever eager Spring—by Summer's wealth of leaf and vine and flower-the sad and transient glories of the Autumn woods—and Winter, builder of home and fireside, and whose storms without, create the social warmth within.

He was perfectly acquainted with the political questions of the day-heard them discussed at taverns and country stores, at voting places and courts and on the stump. He knew all the arguments for and against, and no man of his time was better equipped for intellectual conflict. He knew the average mind-the thoughts of the people, the hopes and prejudices of his fellow-men. He had the power of accurate statement. He was logical, candid and sincere. In addition, he had the "touch of nature that makes the whole world kin."

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

In 1858 he was a candidate for the Senate against Stephen A. Douglas.

The extreme Democrats would not vote for Douglas, but the extreme Republicans did vote for Lincoln Lincoln occupied the middle ground, and was the compromise candidate of his own party. He lived for many years in the intellectual territory of compromise—in a part of our country settled by Northern and Southern men—where Northern and Southern ideas met, and the ideas of the two sections were brought together and compared.

The sympathies of Lincoln, his ties of kindred, were with the South. His convictions, his sense of justice, and his ideals, were with the North. He knew the horrors of slavery, and he felt the unspeakable ecstasies and glories of freedom. He had the kindness, the gentleness, of true greatness, and he could not have been a master; he had the manhood and independence of true greatness, and he could not have been a slave. He was just, and was incapable of putting a burden upon others that he himself would not willingly bear.

He was merciful and profound, and it was not necessary for him to read the history of the world to know that liberty and slavery could not live in the same nation, or in the same brain. Lincoln was a statesman. And there is this dif

« ZurückWeiter »