Lincoln’s doings December 3, 1859
The Leavenworth Daily Times, Monday Morning , November 28, 1859
I have purposely reserved an account of Mr. Lincoln’s reception and stay in Leavenworth – the metropolis of Kansas – both because it accords with the “march of events” and is deserving of enlarged mention. There was in it a peculiar significance. Though we have received many distinguished guests, we have had nothing that approximated to that ovation. It came so naturally – was so spontaneous and heartfelt – the enthusiasm over him and about him was so earnest – the regard for him so universal and penetrating, that we had rather to restrain than excite. The people recognized in him an honest man – one who had fought a good fight, and who was in it and for it for life. What wonder then that Mr. Lincoln regards his visit to Leavenworth as one of the happiest events in his life, or that the recollection of that event is, to us, a memory and a joy forever?
In company with the Leavenworth Committee, Mr. Lincoln left Atchison early on Saturday morning, December 3, 1859. Leaving Mr. Lincoln’s carriage jolting over the hard clods of the frozen twenty miles of mother earth that stretch between Atchison and Leavenworth, let us turn to the latter city and glance at the preparations on foot for the proper reception of the anticipated guest.
The following announcement appeared in the Republican paper of Saturday, and was placarded about the streets: “The Hon. Abe Lincoln is on Kansas soil. He has spoken at Elwood, Troy and Doniphan. Last night he spoke at Atchison. To-day, at noon, he arrives in Leavenworth; let us give the gallant champion of Freedom a reception befitting his great talents , his staring eloquence, his noble-hearted devotion to cause of Liberty.”
About 9 o’clock a. m., there was a great gathering of citizens, and by 11 o’clock a large procession, with music and banners, started out to meet the expected guest. The old Kickapoo cannon (a Free-State trophy) sounded his welcome when he appeared in sight and the demonstration was of the heartiest description. He was escorted to the Mansion House, where a platform had been erected.
To this platform Mr. Lincoln was conducted by Col. John C. Vaughan; and, when silence was partially restored, Col. Vaughan introduced Mr. Lincoln to the audience.
Mr. Lincoln made a grateful reply, in which he congratulated the people on the victory they had achieved, saying they would never have to fight their battles over again. He expressed himself, overpowered with his reception, in which he recognized Homage to principal rather than a tribute to personal merit. His speech was a masterly effort, and produced a marked and salutary effect. He was simple and downright, dealt plainly and justly with parties and the measures of parties.
Most of the free-state men of influence in the town were from New York or New England, aside from the Germans, and favored Senator Seward, of New York, for the presidency. Lincoln was out of Congress, had been defeated for the senate, and his candidacy for the republican nomination did not impress the young Easterners. Mrs. Delahay, wife of the judge, was a kins-woman of Lincoln’s a cousin, I believe, and the Illinois ex-congressman was coming to Leavenworth to visit her. We had notice of his coming, and the Wilders, both of them, I think, John Hatterscheidt, William Tholen and I drove in a carriage to Doniphan, a few miles north of Atchison, to meet him. We found him at the tavern, where a committee from Troy had brought him, and we drove back to Leavenworth. He took a room at the Planters’, and went from there to the Delahays’. That night he made a free-state speech, and we gave him as good a reception as if Seward had never been heard of.
After the meeting he came to a room occupied by Carter Wilder, Tholen, and me. It was across the street from the hotel, on the second floor, and contained two beds, a cot, some plain chairs, and an old box stove. That stove could eat wood enough to keep one man busy carrying fuel up the stairs and two or three men poor paying for it. Lincoln and Marcus J. Parrott, the Kansas delegate in Congress, were our guests, and they stayed until all the wood in the room had been devoured by the glutton stove.
It was a cold night, as I remember it, and nobody was willing to leave the room long enough to go for wood. Mark Parrott had sent us great sacks full of patent-office reports from Washington to distribute among the boys. Times were not dull enough in the town to make government reports popular reading-matter, and many sacks full of bound paper were unopened in the room. Some had already served for fuel, and when the fire died down two or three bulky books went into the stove.
We were all Seward men, and Mr. Lincoln knew it. Up to this time, out of courtesy to our guest, no one had mentioned politics for, while Lincoln was ostensibly visiting his kins-woman, Mrs. Delahay, it was well known that he wasn’t forgetting the national convention of the next year. Besides, Delahay was his Kansas champion. Lincoln afterward appointed him United States judge. As the books were heaved into the stove one of the men asked:
“Mr. Lincoln, when you become president will you sanction the burning of government reports by cold men in Kansas territory ?”
“Not only will I not sanction it, but I will cause legal action to be brought against the offenders,” said Lincoln, smiling good-naturedly. That’s the only reference to the presidency made that night, and every man in the room was a politician. Lincoln sat there for hours, his feet against the stove, and his chair tilted back. His reputation as a story-teller is deserved, for he was the leader in swapping tales that night. None of them, however, was sufficiently funny, strong or unique to make a forty-years impression on me. I can’t recall a single one of them. It was simply a winter evening of talk among young men who liked to talk. There was nothing to drink, but some of the men were smoking.
In appearance Lincoln was not the impressive man the next few years made him. He was made up of head, hands, feet, and length. The lines that gave his face and figure a majesty of sadness were yet to come.”
Col. Daniel R. Anthony, The Kansas City Star, February 23, 1902
The Leavenworth Weekly Herald, December 03, 1859
The well- used road leading to Fort Leavenworth as sketched by Henry W. Waugh in 1858
Great Gathering of Republicans !
ENTHUSIASTIC RECEPTION OF HON. ABE LINCOLN.
A GLORIOUS OVATION.
THE CELEBRATION OF SATURDAY.
Leavenworth Daily Times, December 5,1859
SYNOPSIS OF THE SPEECH
Hon. Abraham Lincoln.
After being introduced to the large audience by Col. W. W. Delahay, Mr. Lincoln said, substantially as follows :
Ladies and Gentlemen : You are, as yet, the people of a Territory ; but you probably soon will be the people of a State of the Union. Then you will be in possession of new privileges, and new duties will be upon you. You will have to bear a part in all that pertains to the administration of the National Government. That government, from the beginning, has had, has now, and must continue to have a policy in relation to domestic slavery. It cannot, if it would be without a policy upon that subject. And that policy must, of necessity, take one of two directions. It must deal with the institutions as being wrong or as not being wrong.
Mr. Lincoln then stated, somewhat in detail, the early action of the General Government upon the question – in relation to the foreign slave trade, the basis of Federal representation, and the prohibition of slavery in the Federal territories ; the Fugitive Slave clause in the Constitution, and insisted, that, plainly that early policy, was based on the idea of slavery being wrong ; and tolerating it so far, and only so far, as the necessity of its actual presence required.
He then took up the policy of the Kansas-Nebraska act, which he argued was based on opposite ideas that is, the idea that slavery is not wrong. He said : You, the people of Kansas, furnish the example of the first application of this new policy. At the end of about five years, after having almost continual struggles, fire and bloodshed, over this very question, and after having framed several State Constitutions, you have, at last, secured a Free State Constitution, under which you will probably be admitted into the Union. You have, at last, at the end of all this difficulty, attained what we, in tho old North-western Territory, attained without any difficulty at all. Compare, or rather contrast, the actual working of this new policy with that of the old, and say whether, after all the old way – the way adopted by Washington and his compeers was not the better way.
Mr. Lincoln argued that the new policy had proven false to all its promises that its promise to the Nation was to speedily end the slavery agitation, which it had not done, but directly the contrary that its promises to the people of the Territories was to give them greater control of their own affairs than the people of former Territories had had ; while, by the actual experiment, they had had less control of their own affairs, and had been more bedeviled by outside interference than the people of any other Territory ever had.
He insisted that it was deceitful in its expressed wish to confer additional privileges upon the people ; else it would have conferred upon them the privilege of choosing their own officers. That if there be any just reason why all the privileges of a State should not be conferred on the people of a Territory at once, it only could be the resmallness of numbers; and that if while their numbers was small, they were fit to do some things, and unfit to do others, it could only be because those they were unfit to do, were the larger and more important things that, in this case, the allowing the people of Kansas to plant their soil with slavery, and not allowing them to choose their own Governor, could only be justified on the idea that the planting a new Stato with slavery was a very small matter, and the election of Governor a very much greater matter. Now, said he, compare these two matters and decide which is really the greater. You have already had, I think, five Governors, and yet, although their doings, in their respective days, were of some little interest to you, it is doubtful whether you now, even remember the names of half of them. They are gone (all but the last) without leaving a trace upon your soil, or having done a single act which can, in the least degree, help or hurt you, in all the indefinite future before you. This is the size of the Governor question. Now, how is it with the slavery question? If your first settlers had so far decided in favor of slavery, as to have got five thousand slaves planted on your soil, you could, by no moral possibility, have adopted a Free State Constitution. Their owners would be influential voters among you as good men as the rest of you, and, by their greater wealth, and consequent, greater capacity, to assist the more needy, perhaps the most influential among you. You could not wish to destroy, or injuriously interfere with their property. You would not know what to do with the slaves after you had made them free. You would not wish to keep, them as underlings ; nor yet to elevate them to social and political equality. You could not send them away. The slave States would not let you send them there; and the free States would not let you send them there. All the rest of your property would not pay for sending them to Liberia. In one word, you could not have made a free State, if the first half of your own numbers had got five thousand slaves fixed upon the soil. You could have disposed of, not merely five, but five hundred Governors easier. There they would have stuck, in spite of you, to plague you and your children, and your children’s children, indefinitely. Which is the greater, this, or the Governor question? Which could the more safely be entrusted to the first few people who settle a Territory? Is it that which, at most, can be but temporary and brief in its effects? or that which being done by the first few, can scarcely ever be undone by the succeeding many?
He insisted that, little as was Popular Sovereignty at first, the Dred Scott decision, which is endorsed by the author of Popular Sovereignty has reduced it to still smaller proportions, if it has not entirely crushed it out. That, in fact, all it lacks of being crushed out entirely by that decision, is the lawyer’s technical distinction between decision and dictum. That the Court has already said a Territorial government cannot exclude slavery ; but because they did not say it in a case where a Territorial government had tried to exclude slavery the lawyers hold that saying of the Court to be dictum and not decision. But, said Mr. Lincoln, is it not certain that the Court will make decision of it, the first time a Territorial government tries to exclude slavery?
Mr. Lincoln argued that the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, carried out, renews the African Slave Trade. Said he, “Who can show that one people have a better right to carry slaves to whole they have never been, than another people have to buy slaves wherever they please, even in Africa?”
He also argued that the advocates of Popular Sovereignty, by their efforts, to brutalize the negro in the public mind denying him any share in the Declaration of Independence, and comparing him to the crocodile were beyond what avowed proslavery men overdo, and really did as much, or more than they, toward making the institution national and perpetual.
He said many of the Popular Sovereignty advocates were “as much opposed to slavery as anyone ;” but that they could never find any proper time or place to oppose it. In their view, it must not be opposed in politics, because that is agitation ; nor in the pulpit, because it is not religion ; nor in the Free States, because it is not there ; nor in the Slave States, because it is there. These gentlemen, however, are never offended by hearing Slavery supported in any of these places. Still, they are “as much opposed to Slavery as anybody.” One would suppose that it would exactly suit them if the people of the Slave States would themselves adopt emancipation ; but when Frank Blair tried this last year, in Missouri, and was beaten, every one of them threw up his hat and shouted “Hurrah for the Democracy !”
Mr. Lincoln argued that those who thought Slavery right ought to unite on a policy which should deal with it as being right ; that they should go for a revival of the Slave Trade ; for carrying the institution: everywhere, into Free States as well as Territories; and for a surrender of fugitive slaves in Canada, or war with Great Britain. Said he, all shades of Democracy, popular sovereign as well as the rest, are fully agreed that slaves are property, and only property. If Canada now had as many horses as she has slaves belonging to Americans, I should think it just cause of war if she did not surrender them on demand.
On the other hand, all those who believe slavery is wrong should unite on a policy, dealing with it as a wrong. They should be deluded into no deceitful contrivances, pretending indifference, but really working for that to which they are opposed. He urged this at considerable length.
He then took up some of the objections to Republicans. They were accused of being sectional. He denied it. What was the proof ? Why, that they have no existence, get no votes in the South. But that depends on the South, and not on us. It is their volition, not ours ; and if there be fault in it, it is primarily theirs, and remains so, unless they show that we repel them by some wrong principle. If they attempt this, they will find us holding no principle, other than those held and acted upon by the men who gave us the government under which we live. They will find that the charge of sectionalism will not stop at us, but will extend to the very men who gave us the liberty we enjoy. But if the mere fact that we get no votes in the slave states makes us sectional, whenever we shall get votes in those states, we shall cease to be sectional ; and we are sure to get votes, and a good many of them too, in these states next year.
You claim that you are conservative; and we are not. We deny it. What is conservatism ? Preserving the old against the new. – And yet you are conservative in struggling for the new, and we are destructive in trying to maintain the old. Possibly you mean you are conservative in trying to maintain the existing institution of slavery. Very well ; we are not trying to destroy it. The peace of society, and the structure of our government both require that we should let it alone, and we insist on letting it alone. If I might advise my Republican friends here, I would say to them, leave your Missouri neighbors alone. Have nothing whatever to do with their slaves. Have nothing whatever to do with the white people, save in a friendly way. Drop past differences, and so conduct yourselves that if you cannot be at peace with them, the fault shall be wholly theirs!
You say we have made the question more prominent than heretofore. We deny it. It is more prominent; but we did not make it so. – Despite of us, you would have a change of policy; we resist the change, and in the struggle, the greater prominence is given to the question. Who is responsible for that, you or we? If you would have the question reduced to its old proportions go back to the old policy. That will affect it.
But you are for the Union; and you greatly fear the success of the Republicans would destroy the Union. Why? Do the Republicans declare against the Union? Nothing like it. Your own statement of it is, that if the Black Republicans elect a President, you won’t stand it. You will break up the Union. That will be your act, not ours. To justify it, you must show that our policy gives you just cause for such desperate action. Can you do that? When you attempt it, you will find that our policy is exactly the policy of the men who made the Union. Nothing more and nothing less. Do you really think you are justified to break up the government rather than have it administrated by Washington and other good and great men who made it and first administered it? If you do you are very unreasonable ; and more reasonable men cannot and will not submit to you. While you elect President, we submit, neither breaking nor attempting to break up the Union. If we shall constitutionally elect a President, it will be our duty to see that you submit. Old John Brown has just been executed, for treason against a state. We cannot object, even though he agreed with us in thinking slavery wrong. That cannot excuse violence, bloodshed, and treason. It could avail him nothing that he might think himself right. So, if constitutionally we elect a President, and therefore you under take to destroy the Union, it will be our duty to deal with you as old John Brown has been dealt with. We shall try to do our duty. We hope and believe that in no section will a majority so act as to render such extreme measures necessary.
Mr. Lincoln closed by an appeal to all opponents as well as friends–to think soberly and maturely, and never fail to cast their vote, insisting that it was not a privilege only, but a ciuty to do so.
Mr. L. here concluded amid loud and long cheers. The immense crowd remained motionless for a long time to look upon the old warworn veteran of Free State principles. Truly, never did a man win the affections of an audience so completely os did Mr, L. on Saturday night.
Mr. Lincoln’s Speech.
Old Abe Lincoln.
According to announcement this venerable champion of Republicans arrived Saturday afternoon about 5 o’clock, and was immediately surrounded by a respectable crowd of the “faithful,” who bore him to the Mansion House, where the ceremonies of introduction and reception were gone through with. Col. J.C. Vaughan introduced him to the crowd, when he responded in a short speech—the pith of which was “he couldn’t speak long, as he was to address them at night.” He was probably afraid he would explore his ‘one idea’ and leave no capital for the evening.
Stockton’s Hall was filled to overflowing at an early hour—many Democrats being present. At half past seven, the hero of the occasion arrived, and after being greeted with a cheer, was introduced by Chief Engineer Delehay, — After elevating his nose, as if to scent the strength of the crowd in which he found himself, and taking a view all round, “Old Abe” took out his notes, and squared himself like a man who had work before him and felt equal to the occasion.
The personal appearance of the individual is altogether different from any idea which a stranger would form. Be far from appearing ‘old” he bears the appearance of a man well in his prime, but without dignity or grace; he has the lank, loose stamp of a six foot Egyptian “sucker.” who has had his supply of whiskey cut off in his growing days, and therefore suddenly “run to seed,” His style of delivery, though concise, and striking plainly on the bearer, bears the impress of labored efforts to collect a smooth and easy flow; while his ideas are put forth in language totally at variance with all the rules of grammar.
We cannot review it in all its particulars ; but we have seldom heard one where more spurious argument, cunning sophistry, and flimsy evasions, were mingled together, and made to work out all right—no doubt to the satisfaction of his audience. He seized the slavery hobby in the beginning and rode it out to the end ; starting out with presumed facts, which the man could not but know were points in dispute in the war of parties; and by the surreptitious adoption of which he cunningly eroded any charge of inconsistency in his erratic and blundering harangue. His remarks throughout were but the reproduction of the same old Illinois stump speeches with which he bored his audiences in that campaign which made him famous, and gave him the notoriety which he is not entitled to, owing to the position of his opponent. He certainly has the same old arguments stereotyped, which, if reports be true, he treats his audiences to on each and every occasion. The most noticeable point was his appeal to the Republicans in Kansas, “to let the slaves in Missouri alone; no doubt he thought they needed some advice on this
subject: His last remarks were confined to a vindication of the policy and doctrines of modern republicanism, and here is where the weakness of the man was apparent. His reply to the charge of sectionalism was flimsy, and weak in the extreme, accompanied with the hesitating delivery and excruciating gesture of a man who finds himself upon ground with which he is unacquainted, and accordingly “old Abe” beat a harsh retreat, and wound up with the apology that “as he had to speak again on Monday, he could not say more;” afraid of tarring that one idea too heavily.
Leavenworth Weekly Herald, December 10, 1859
December SATURDAY 3 1859
At home in forenoon Reading – afternoon went down
in Town – Jenny Cole & another promenading the Streets –
Went to the Lincoln’s
Reception at Mansion House – He is an Old man Tall Slim and awkward and farmer looking, Col. [John C.] Vaughan made reception Speech and Lincoln Replyed in a few remarks. There were quite a number out perhaps 500 – Went at night to hear Hon. Abe Lincoln make a speech. Stockton’s Hall was crammed full, all parties out, the old man spoke 2 hours. It was a sound deep & logical speech, he is not eloquent like Burlingame, —his language is not so beautiful, his periods not so nicely turned his questions not so graceful, his hands were placed one on the other & both at his belly at the commencement, towards the conclusion he kept them on his groins or upper part of his thighs one on each thigh the most of the time, he occasionally made gestures with his hands, he is not Poetical, he states everything fairly. His forte is (after stating his opponent’s views and arguments fairly & justly) to reduce those views & arguments to a palpable absurdity & to Show them in a ridiculous & Ludicrous light, The Points he touched on were as ably handled as I have ever heard or seen them handled. I think it as able a speech as I ever heard he had a few notes to look at, the first part of his speech was historical to show that the Fathers of the Republic thought Slavery very wrong, The most of his speech was in opposition to popular sovereignty & those that think Slavery a matter of indifference.
This particular passage was written on four different pages in the original diary: November 30–December 3; it is unified here for the reader’s convenience. Colonel John C. Vaughan was publisher of the Leavenworth Times. His son Champion helped edit the newspaper and was active in territorial politics. “WENT AT NIGHT TO HEAR HON. ABE LINCOLN MAKE A SPEECH”
November WEDNESDAY 30 1859
At Home —- cloudy morning
Warm day Rained a little
in the evening ——
See opposite Page (4
he had a few notes to
look at, the first part
of his Speech was histor
ical to Show that the Fathers
of the Republic thought Sla
very wrong, The most of
his speech was in opposition
to popular Sovereignty & those
that think Slavery a matter of
December Thursday 1 1859
At Home all day —- Very
cold, a very Sudden change
in the weather last night—-
Reading Burns Poems—-
See next page (3
his hands, he is not Poetical,
he States everything fairly.
His forte is (after stating his
opponents a views and argum
ents fairly & justly) to reduce
those views & arguments to a
palpable absurdity & to
Show them in a ridiculous
& Ludicrous light, The
Points he touched were
as ably handled as I have
ever heard or seen them
handled I think it
as able a speech as I ever heard
See opposite Page
December Friday 2 1859
At Home all day —- very cold
day – (2)
See opposite page
man spoke 2 hours.
It was a Sound deep & logical
Speech, he is not eloquent
like Burlingame, his language
is not so beautiful, his periods
not so nicely turned his ques
tions not so graceful, his
hands were placed one on
the other & both at his belly at the
commencement, towards the
conclusion he kept them
on his groins or upper part
of his thighs one on each thigh
the most of the time, he occa
sionally made gestures with
See previous page.
December Saturday 3 1859
At Home in forenoon
Reading —- afternoon
went down in Town—-
Jenny Cole & another promenading
the Streets —- Went to Abe
Lincoln’s Reception at Man-
Sion House —- He is an
Old man Tall and slim and
awkward and farmer
looking. Col Vaughn
made reception Speech
and Lincoln Replyed in a
few remarks. There were
quite a number out perhaps
500 —- Went at night to
hear Hon. Abe Lincoln
make a Speech. Stockton’s
Hall was crammed full.
all parties out, the old
See opposite page.