Abraham Lincoln, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 338 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume I.
His first “little speech” was on “a post-office question of no general interest;” and he found himself “about as badly scared and no worse” than when he spoke in court.  So a little later, January 12, 1848, he ventured to call up his resolutions and to make an elaborate speech upon them.[59] It was not a very great or remarkable speech, but it was a good one, and not conceived in the fervid and florid style which defaced his youthful efforts; he spoke sensibly, clearly, and with precision of thought; he sought his strength in the facts, and went in straight pursuit of the truth; his best intellectual qualities were plainly visible.  The resolutions were not acted upon, and doubtless their actual passage had never been expected; but they were a good shot well placed; and they were sufficiently noteworthy to save Lincoln from being left among the herd of the nobodies of the House.

In view of his future career, but for no other reason, a brief paragraph is worth quoting.  He says:—­

“Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better.  This is a most valuable, a most sacred right,—­a right which, we hope and believe, is to liberate the world.  Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it.  Any portion of such people, that can, may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit.”  This doctrine, so comfortably applied to Texas in 1848, seemed unsuitable for the Confederate States in 1861.  But possibly the point lay in the words, “having the power,” and “can,” for the Texans “had the power” and “could,” and the South had it not and could not; and so Lincoln’s practical proviso saved his theoretical consistency; though he must still have explained how either Texas or the South could know whether they “had the power,” and “could,” except by trial.

Lincoln’s course concerning the war and the administration did not please his constituents.  With most of the Whigs he voted for Ashmun’s amendment, which declared that the war had been “unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President.”  But soon he heard that the people in Springfield were offended at a step which might weaken the administration in time of stress; and even if the President had transcended the Constitution, they preferred to deny rather than to admit the fact.  When Douglas afterward charged Lincoln with lack of patriotism, Lincoln replied that he had not chosen to “skulk,” and, feeling obliged to vote, he had voted for “the truth” rather than for “a lie."[60] He remarked also that he, with the Whigs generally, always voted for the supply bills.  He took and maintained his position with entire manliness and honesty, and stated his principles with perfect clearness, neither shading nor abating nor coloring by any conciliatory or politic

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Abraham Lincoln, Volume I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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