As the situation grew persistently worse, Mr. Lincoln at length, about the first of June, himself became a formal applicant. But the delay resulting from his devotion to his friends had dissipated his chances. Butterfield received the appointment, and the defeat was aggravated when, a few months later, his unrelenting spirit of justice and fairness impelled him to write a letter defending Butterfield and the Secretary of the Interior from an attack by one of Lincoln’s warm personal but indiscreet friends in the Illinois legislature. It was, however, a fortunate escape. In the four succeeding years Mr. Lincoln qualified himself for better things than the monotonous drudgery of an administrative bureau at Washington. It is probable that this defeat also enabled him more easily to pass by another temptation. The Taylor administration, realizing its ingratitude, at length, in September, offered him the governorship of the recently organized territory of Oregon; but he replied:
“On as much reflection as I have had time to give the subject, I cannot consent to accept it.”
Repeal of the Missouri Compromise—State Fair Debate—Peoria Debate—Trumbull Elected—Letter to Robinson—The Know-Nothings—Decatur Meeting—Bloomington Convention—Philadelphia Convention—Lincoln’s Vote for Vice-President—Fremont and Dayton—Lincoln’s Campaign Speeches—Chicago Banquet Speech
After the expiration of his term in Congress Mr. Lincoln applied himself with unremitting assiduity to the practice of law, which the growth of the State in population, and the widening of his acquaintanceship no less than his own growth in experience and legal acumen, rendered ever more important and absorbing.
“In 1854,” he writes, “his profession had almost superseded the thought of politics in his mind, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused him as he had never been before.”
Not alone Mr. Lincoln, but, indeed, the whole nation, was so aroused—the Democratic party, and nearly the entire South, to force the passage of that repeal through Congress, and an alarmed majority, including even a considerable minority of the Democratic party in the North, to resist its passage.
Mr. Lincoln, of course, shared the general indignation of Northern sentiment that the whole of the remaining Louisiana Territory, out of which six States, and the greater part of two more, have since been organized and admitted to the Union, should be opened to the possible extension of slavery. But two points served specially to enlist his energy in the controversy. One was personal, in that Senator Douglas of Illinois, by whom the repeal was championed, and whose influence as a free-State senator and powerful Democratic leader alone made the repeal possible, had been his personal antagonist in Illinois politics for almost twenty years. The other was moral, in that the new question