I had a little garden in which the weeds did grow, and little Bobbie Miller had a little broken hoe. When I went into my garden to cut the weeds away, I took up Bobbie’s little hoe to help me in the fray. If that little hoe were wanting, I’d take a spoon or fork, or any other implement, but always keep at work. If any one would send me a broader, sharper hoe, I’d use it on those ugly weeds and cut more with one blow; but till I got a better hoe, I’d work away with Bobbie’s. I’d ride one steady-going nag, and not a dozen hobbies; help any man or boy, or fiend to do what needed doing, and only stop when work came up which done would call for ruing.
This conceit struck popular fancy as plain argument could not have done, and the Republican party came to be called “Robbie Miller’s Hoe “—an imperfect means of reaching a great end, and one that any one might use without becoming responsible for its imperfections.
During the heat of that Lincoln campaign, Galusha A. Grow, then Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, came to St. Cloud to speak, and found me ill with quinsy; but I went to the meeting. It was held in Wilson’s Hall, which was on the second floor of a frame building, and was so packed that before he began fears were felt lest the floors should give way. But the speaker told the audience that the floor would “hold still” if they did; and any one who felt uneasy had better leave now. No one left, and for two hours and a half he held that packed assembly in close and silent attention. He was very popular on the frontier on account of his homestead bill, yet the hall was surrounded all the time he spoke by a howling Democratic mob, who hurled stones against the house, fired guns, shouted and yelled, trying to drown his voice. To make it more interesting and try to draw out the audience, they made a huge bonfire and burned me in effigy as—
“The mother of the Republican party.”
The result of that campaign is known, for in it Minnesota was made so thoroughly Republican that the party must needs split, in order to got rid of its supremacy.
The St. Cloud Democrat found in orthodoxy a foe almost as powerful and persistent as slavery itself. In a local controversy about dancing, I recommended that amusement as the only substitute for lascivious plays, and this was eagerly seized upon by those who saw nothing wrong in wholesale concubinage of the South. A fierce attack was made on The Democrat by a zealous Baptist minister; to which I replied, when it was announced and proclaimed that on a certain Sabbath, at 10 A.M., this minister would answer The Democrat. At the appointed hour the house overflowed, and people crowded around the doors and windows, while Gen. Lowrie occupied a prominent seat in the audience.