Lincoln’s doings December 2, 1859
The next day he rode to
Word had reached Atchison, and preparations had been made to get out a large crowd to hear Lincoln. A brass band paraded the streets advertising the meeting that night at 8 o’clock. The largest auditorium in the town was the Methodist Church which stood near the corner of Fifth and Parallel streets, where a stone marker stands today commemorating Atchison’s most distinguished opportunity. The use of the Methodist Church could not be readily obtained, as many Methodists believed slavery compatible with Christianity and later they were the only religious group in Atchison that separated into “North” and “South” over the war.
The church was crowded and many people stood up around the sides of the auditorium. The Hon. Samuel C. Pomeroy, later one of the first United States Senators from Kansas, introduced Lincoln. Pomeroy was an ardent supporter of Seward and was persuaded to introduce Lincoln only because he was mayor of Atchison. To show his displeasure he had a paper in his hand during the introduction and referred to it to remember Lincoln’s name. Everybody was tense in Atchison the night of December 2, 1859, because word had come that John Brown had been hanged that afternoon. Lincoln felt the spirit of the crowd and “fitted his speech into the atmosphere.” It was his opportunity and he “warned those who might become guilty of being disloyal to the government, ‘If you are guilty of treason, we will hang you as you have hanged old John Brown this afternoon.'” One in Lincoln’s audience reported that the speech was “the most logical and vigorous” he had ever heard from a Republican orator. Years later another said, “I shall never forget how Lincoln looked, standing in the little box of a pulpit with his strange ungraceful gestures as he leaned over, seeming with his long arms almost as if he could touch his hearers upon the back benches.”
The most valuable report on Lincoln’s visit to Atchison, however, is preserved in the “Reminiscences of Franklin G. Adams”:
I had first seen Mr. Lincoln and heard him talk in Atchison in 1859. He was not then popularly
I was on the committee to provide a place for the Lincoln meeting that evening. Judge P. P. Wilcox was a member of the committee. The best audience room in town was that of the Methodist church. Our committee hunted up the trustees, and Wilcox says he had considerable difficulty in gaining consent to have a political meeting in a church. I scarcely remember how it was, but Wilcox says we met with such a rebuff and refusal that he lost his patience, and it took the best I could do in the way of persuasion to get the church, which we did. I still remember the appearance of Mr. Lincoln as he walked up the aisle on entering the church and took his place on the pulpit stand. He was awkward and forbidding, but it required but a few words for him to dispel the unfavorable impression, and he was listened to with the deepest of interest by every member of the audience.
I have mentioned the attachment of the people of Kansas for Wm. H. Seward. Our own local paper, the Atchison
Others who heard Lincoln in Atchison were General Benjamin F. Stringfellow, one of the most violent proslavery leaders in Atchison County and in the entire Territory. John J. Ingalls was another Atchison citizen who was destined later to gain fame as a statesman and poet. Frank A. Root,
Lincoln spent the night in the Massasoit House at Atchison wondering what impression he had made. He was a keen politician, but Atchison made him wonder.
From there he drove to Atchison and spoke in the pioneer Methodist church at Fifth and parallel streets. A brass band paraded the streets and drummed up a crowd for him and escorted him to the church which was so packed he could scarcely wedge his way in.” I still remember the appearance of Mr. Lincoln as he walked up the aisle of the church,” wrote Franklin G. Adams. “He was awkward and forbidding, but it required only a few words for him to dispell the unfavorable impression.” He spoke for two hours and twenty
A. B. Macdonald, The Kansas City Star, Sunday, February
“It was at Atchison that Abraham Lincoln, on his first visit to Kansas, spoke to a crowded house on “The Issues of the Day,” December 2, 1859, the date that old John Brown was executed in Virginia. Lincoln spoke in the Methodist church, which then stood on the hill at the comer of Fifth and Parallel streets. The little church was a frame building, dedicated in