Abraham Lincoln, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume I.
against the Lecompton Constitution.  This time the pro-slavery men, considering the matter already lawfully settled, refused to vote, and the result was that this polling showed 10,226 against the Constitution, 138 for the Constitution with slavery, 24 for the Constitution without slavery.  It is an instance of Lincoln’s political foresight that nearly two years and a half before this condition of affairs came about he had written:  “If Kansas fairly votes herself a slave State, she must be admitted, or the Union must be dissolved.  But how if she votes herself a slave State unfairly?...  Must she still be admitted, or the Union be dissolved?  That will be the phase of the question when it first becomes a practical one."[71]

The struggle was now transferred to Washington.  President Buchanan had solemnly pledged himself to accept the result of the popular vote.  Now he was confronted by two popular votes, of which the one made somewhat the better technical and formal showing, and the other undeniably expressed the true will of a large majority of lawful voters.  He selected the former, and advised Congress to admit Kansas under the Lecompton Constitution with slavery.  But Douglas took the other side.  The position of Douglas in the nation and in the Democratic party deserves brief consideration, for in a way it was the cause of Lincoln’s nomination as the Republican candidate for the presidency in 1860.  From 1852 to 1860 Douglas was the most noteworthy man in public life in the country.  Webster, Clay, and Calhoun had passed away.  Seward, Chase, and Sumner, still in the earlier stages of their brilliant careers, were organizing the great party of the future.  This interval of eight years belonged to Douglas more than to any other one man.  He had been a candidate for the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 1852 and again in 1856; and had failed to secure it in part by reason of that unwritten rule whereby the leading statesmen are so often passed over, in order to confer the great prize upon insignificant and therefore presumably submissive men.  Douglas was not of this type; he had high spirit, was ambitious, masterful, and self-confident; he was also an aggressive, brilliant, and tireless fighter in a political campaign, an orator combining something of the impressiveness of Webster with the readiness and roughness of the stump speaker.  He had a thorough familiarity with all the politics, both the greater and the smaller, of the time; he was shrewd and adroit as a politician, and he had as good a right as any man then prominent in public life to the more dignified title of statesman.  He had the art of popularity, and upon sufficient occasion could be supple and accommodating even in the gravest matters of principle.  He had always been a Democrat.  He now regarded himself as properly the leader of the Democratic party; and of course he still aimed at the high office which he had twice missed.[72] With this object in view, he had gone very far to retain

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